Today, we continue our interviews with blog favorite: Fuzzybear Lioness of Fuzzilicious Thinking...
The panel is ready with their questions...
First question, please...
How did you discover Soldiers' Angels?
I discovered Soldiers' Angels through a web search in the summer of 2004 when I was searching for a simple way to support deployed personnel. However, I eventually settled on using anysoldier.com because it didn't have a screening process (patience having never been one of my many virtues). When CPT Chuck Ziegenfuss and I envisioned Valour-IT, we wanted to find a charity that would take it on as a project rather than start a non-profit from scratch. John Donovan suggested Soldiers' Angels, and the rest is history.
Has your perspective on things changed since then?
I'm not sure there's been a big shift, but my involvement in troop support activities has broadened and deepened my pre-existing appreciation for our military members and their families. Even though I'm a total civilian, I now live with a daily awareness of what is happening on the other side of the world and its potential impact on individuals both there and here. My trip to DC and the VA hospital cemented all that I had first understood intellectually and intuitively-it's stamped on my soul now.
Also, the relationships I've formed with current and former warfighters through my activities have impacted me because not only do they bless me with their friendship, but they remind me that honor, integrity, and self-sacrifice in all its forms are alive and well despite what we see in politics or so much of the rest of the culture. And besides, they're more fun than a barrel of monkeys!
What's the view like from the Castle chandelier during comment parties?
Are you sure you want to know? Okay... brace yourself.
Oh, it's absolute debauchery and chaos! I mean, you've got Were-Kitten Pole-dancing with Andre, chocolate and marshmallow goo all over the floor, Sgt. B goosing any lady who walks bye, JTG sitting in the corner taking apart the 'Ritamatic or any other device he can get his hands on, Neffi trying (unsuccessfully) to catch my tail, and Kat sitting on the couch with a gaggle of guys whose eyes are crossing due to her discussions of how "military hardware" should be maintained/employed. And then there's all the Scrupl's scurrying around... It's just crazy!
How steep was the technical learning curve to get started blogging?
Not steep at all. These days blogging is practically idiot-proof. I started with Blogspot, which has options for both WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get-like working in a word processing program) and HTML entry. By switching back and forth between HTML and WYSIWYG views I could see how my typing was translated, which is how I learned basic HTML.
How much time do you find yourself spending on your blog now?
Way too much! What's time-consuming is the actual writing, though-not the technical aspects.
What inspired you to blog?
I did it almost as a lark. As I got involved in Castle Argghhh!!!, I found that most of my online friends had blogs, so I felt left out. Lex in particular kept gently nudging me to start. I finally gave in, and within a week after I began blogging, Valour-IT started to develop. I found the blog immensely useful in that, so I felt I couldn't quit. And now it's becoming addictive!
What is your favorite piece of music (classical or otherwise) to listen to and why?
There are so many pieces and styles that I really love, but if I had to pick one it would probably be Johann Sebastian Bach's Prelude and Fugue in G Minor for organ (listen here and here with good speakers). There's something about how he put the notes together for that piece than transcends sound and becomes almost a physical presence. I think I could literally dance with it... it's a living thing. It seems that it could have been written no other way than it exactly was; note-by-note it's pure perfection on intellectual, aesthetic, aural, and physical levels.
Years ago my best friend was newly engaged and I was feeling left out. She, her fiancé, and I attended a university organ recital that ended with a masterful performance of that piece. Afterwards, practically floating out the door in a swirl of bliss, I turned to them and impulsively exclaimed, "Who needs a man when you've got J.S. Bach!" They still tease me about that.
And is it different from your favorite piece of music to play? Why?
Although I haven't learned that particular piece, I've learned ones like it, and they are probably my favorite pieces to play. The organ is so hard to play at that level, but the feeling when you get your hands and feet flying on the keys and pedals all at the same time is like dancing. It's such a special kind of thrill: think that scene in Big where Tom Hanks dances on the giant piano keyboard... but with 10 times the speed and a hundred times the sound.
If you were not in your current profession, what other profession would you like to be in?
I really don't know. Whatever it would be, it would have to involve working directly with other people and having a positive impact on their lives.
When you *flounce* or *swoon* at the Castle, do you first insure your petticoats won't hang up on the mangonel?
No. Two reasons: 1) I'm far too spontaneous, air-headed and easily distracted to notice something like that until it's too late, and 2) Why begrudge the Men of the Castle their little thrills? ;) Fortunately, I usually flounce and swoon indoors, not outside where the mangonel is.
What's the difference in attitudes of students who have been educated in public school, private school, and home school?
I come at this question as a product of private schools, having friends who were home schooled, and now teaching in public schools. I think home schooled students are more likely to be self-motivated and serious about learning as they get older, as well as more respectful of authority and more able to interact effectively with adults. Private school students also tend to be more respectful of study and learning, even if they struggle with it a bit (I think the low student-teacher ratio may have something to do with that in both cases). Public school attitudes run the gamut, but I see a lot more frustration about learning in the public school environment: the classes are so large and the needs within each classroom so diverse that many students don't get the attention they need or are bored because the class is not challenging/engaging to them.
I remember seeing a picture on your blog of a piano recently, can you tell me about the piano? Did you have any formal training, and what do you like to play most (if anything)?
The piano is an 86-year-old family heirloom and is considered among the finest pianos (Mason & Hamlin) of its era. It has tremendous sentimental value, as it was the piano on which my deceased father learned to play while still a child. I have Associate's, Bachelor's and Master's degrees in music. I was largely self-taught on piano until about age nine and never considered music as a career until I got to college. I like to play just about anything, but my favorite piano composer is probably Chopin, especially his Nocturnes.
What aspect of blogging is the most fun? The least fun?
The most fun is probably just the ego strokes of having others interact with and respond positively/constructively to what I write or link. The least fun is the flip side of that: dealing with trolls, such as when Fuzzilicious Thinking appeared in a Washington Post blogger's column. Having jerks spreading nastiness across my blog in comments was very upsetting.
If you could have lunch with one celebrity or other well known person, who would it be and why?
I really can't come up with an answer for that. Right now I'm much more intrigued by the people I will be meeting at the Milblog Conference. I suppose the closest I could come to identifying a "famous" person I'd like to meet is Brad Kasal. I've had some behind-the-scenes contact with people who have interacted with him, and I find his reported great humility very impressive. I would love to get to know a person who conducts himself both on and off the battlefield in the manner he has.
If you could build your ideal man, where would you start--on the physical attributes or the mental?
I would start with the mental. Without a doubt, it's the mental. The physical aspects of a person are fleeting, while the mind of a good man just gets better with age. I blogged about this once in terms of wit: a witty and intelligent man with unremarkable features will get my attention over a dull hunk every time. Of course, put both characteristics in the same man, add a healthy dose of confidence, and... *swoon*
What would you say is the single most serious issue facing the United States today?
In terms of physical threat, it's terrorism. But I'm extremely concerned about societal changes we see in the political arena. Blind partisanship, lust for power/position, and pure hatred seem to be driving our political discourse and activities, rather than rational considerations. These darker considerations have always been a part of politics, but in a time of wars and clashes of ideology that seem to mirror the scale and duration of the Cold War, they have taken over political decisions in ways that damage our security and future success. When scoring political points or taking down your opponent is more important than winning a war or thinking strategically to protect the country's long-term interests/safety, something in the political culture is broken. In a related area, watching the Democrats fall apart has been very worrisome. A healthy democracy requires principled and rational opposition, but the Democrats as a party are currently providing neither... and are in danger of eventually ceasing to exist as a political force.
Would you rather have brains, a heart, or courage?
Please don't make me choose! Each one without the others is incomplete and even dangerous. Without the brains to direct it appropriately and the courage to cope with challenges, all the caring and tenderness in the world is mere sentimentality. Intelligence without courage means a lack of passion and the strength to put it to proper use, and brains without heart is a typical feature of the sociopath. Finally, courage without brains to guide it and heart to temper it is downright dangerous.
That said... If I have to, I pick courage because no matter how intelligent and well-intentioned you are you'll never get anywhere without courage.
What was the Valour-IT project startup experience like?
It was wild. I never in a million years saw myself doing something like that. I pitched it to Soldiers' Angels on August 2nd, they tossed it back at me and said "run with it!" and so we had the program up and looking for donations by the 10th. I literally spent every waking moment outside of school thinking about the project, whether I needed to or not. Often my eyes would pop open at odd hours of the night and I'd find my mind instantly racing with things related to Valour-IT.
As we started to get inquiries and $1000 donations, I realized it was going to be far bigger than I'd hoped; I wanted to stay in the background, but that became harder to do. I began to wonder, "What have I gotten myself into?!" I also discovered that my milblog friends had some amazing contacts. When we had trouble getting into one target hospital, within 18 hours of asking for help I was awakened from a flu-induced nap by a call from a rather irritated hospital CIO who thought I had insulted his organization. Talk about the cliché of a phone radiating power! Fortunately, we soon straightened things out and he was happy to help Valour-IT. Sometimes I stop and think of the contacts "little ole me" has because of this project and it just blows my mind.
The breadth of the project also affected my relationships with the veterans I knew. I was stunned and deeply touched when several of them told me early on that what I was doing and saying about it showed that I understood the warfighter and that I was "now one of us." That reduced me to instant tears.
But the turning point was the Veterans Day fundraiser. I was extremely hesitant to make decisions about it, unsure of my judgment and influence. It was both humbling and confidence-building to then watch people I deeply respected treat me as a leader and respond so positively to our campaign. Of course, the best part was that the fundraiser put us "on the map," and by raising a stunning $100,000 in ten days we were able to supply over 130 laptops. I find that an amazing testament to the power of the blogosphere and intensity of people's desire to support the troops.
And at the risk of making this long answer even longer, I must point out that I felt like I was more a conduit for everyone else's energy and ideas than anything special on my own; I had merely tapped into an amazing reservoir of support for the wounded that just needed an outlet. That's what I meant when I said, "What have I gotten myself into?" I felt like I was strapped to a runaway train. So many people did the hard work; I merely tried to point their massive energy in the right direction.
When you figure out where to find single guys who are not jerks, will you share the secret with me?
You mean there is such a creature!?! Just kidding, guys! But Basil, I didn't know you were looking. *bratty grin*
Of course, I'll share the secret... after I get first pick.
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?
I don't know. Ask Chuck. Or maybe it was Lex who said he knew something about wood...
Many, many thanks to Fuzzybear Lioness of Fuzzilicious Thinking for agreeing to subject herself to this. We really appreciate you taking the time. Thank you.
Next week, we have interviews scheduled with The Laughing Wolf and with ALa from blonde sagacity.