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311 & others
1) I went to see Stop Loss, a movie directed by Kimberly Peirce, the director behind "Boys Don't Cry," the movie about Brandon Teena's murder.

Guys. If you are a movie watcher, please consider seeing this movie. If you are not a movie watcher, please consider seeing this movie. I think our generation finally got our Deer Hunter,and I would not say that without putting much thought into it. I have so, so much respect for everyone on the team that made this film right now.

If you don't know what it's about, it is about a soldier who gets "Stop Lossed," that is, he leaves the army after serving his final tour, and he is ordered back to Iraq against his will. It was heartbreaking for me to watch this and think about my cousin's last leave from Iraq and the things he told our family about the grim reality of duty under the current conditions in Iraq. The fact that the opening of this movie was so close to the announcement of the death of the 4000th American soldier in Iraq is a sobering coincidence, particularly given the fact that even with the grave depiction of the treatment of the fictional soldier in the movie, nothing could have topped the actual comments made by our Vice President & others last week. Under other circumstances, I might have agreed with our Vice President about the voluntary nature of service in Iraq. I have heard quite my share of stories of soldiers who have gotten indignant when they found out they were going to have to fight, or who've tried to get out of it after going to school on a military scholarship, which is ridiculous, and I have little sympathy for that sort of behavior, but right now, thousands of soldiers are being refused any way out of service even once they've finished the tours they did volunteer for. They volunteered, but they are also being lied to and not provided for to the best of our country's ability. If they were being treated with the respect the men & women of our armed forces deserve, then it would be different. But when the highest branches of our government appear to treat them as cannon fodder, not equip them properly for their missions, and mislead and misdirect soldiers during the recruitment & training process, then, no, they weren't volunteering for what they've been given. Which is a shit job.

That bit of this post went on a bit longer than I expected.

2) Anyway, my intent was to post about the experience I had this morning calling the 311 line for the first time. I went to bed at 4 am after doing a shitload of work-related stuff last night, and I was expecting to sleep till about 11:30.

At 9:20, I was woken up by jackhammering. What, you say, Tea, are you going to rant some more? Why, no! I am not. I opened my window and asked as politely as one can when one is shouting for them to stop. They did not stop. I asked again. They did not stop.

After about a half-hour, I went to look up the noise complaint laws, a bit resigned, because when I lived in Cambridge and tried to dial in noise complaints at 9:30 in the morning, I would get a very snotty attitude from the office that was supposed to handle noise complaints and they would ask me why I wasn't awake at 9 in the morning like normal people. This always pissed me off, because how many types of people necessary to the functioning of society-- nurses, doctors, police officers, electric workers, emergency operators-- have night jobs and need to be asleep in the morning? I understood that it was difficult to do something about the noise, but didn't like the way they treated me like it was something wrong with *me* that I was asleep.

So today, I discovered that in New York City, you can call with a noise complaint no matter what hour of the day-- there are no acceptable hours for disruptive noise. So I called. The lady took my name, number, and gave me a case number. She told me that they would find out who had the jackhammer permit, talk to them, and make sure that they were using the right kind of sound muffling equipment.

What bliss. How nice to have an efficient complaints department that actually sounds like they care about the people complaining. The whole thing took just over five minutes-- no waiting on the line, no being put on hold. It was lovely.

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I'm so glad to hear from somebody that Stop Loss is good; I want to see it, but don't know anybody who would really go see it with me.

I definitely thought it was worth seeing. It's really pretty heavy stuff-- but no more than Boys Don't Cry. A bit more graphic, though, but that comes with the territory of trying to make a good anti-war movie.

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I have two cousins in the Army right now. Both of them are still serving, so they haven't gone through this, but they both know people who have and while I understand the need for experienced servicepeople, I feel like maybe better treatment and benefits would get more people to stay voluntarily. I also feel like a lot of people who would have made excellent soldiers are getting disenchanted by the shit going on in Iraq and no longer want to serve-- I know I've heard from more than one soldier that they were happy to serve in Afghanistan because they feel like we're needed there and have a reason to be there, but that Iraq is a mess and a huge mistake.

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See, I always feel a little wary when I speak on behalf of soldiers because I'm not one and I only have the limited perspective of my relatives who are serving to draw from, so while I'm sorry to hear that that's been your husband's experience, I'm also glad to hear that I'm not misrepresenting people who are trying to protect our country. That's pretty much the same feeling I've gotten from my cousins. He's definitely not alone and it's a shame that people we should be treating really well considering what they're sacrificing for us are getting so much crap. Tell your husband I say thank you, at least.

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Good to hear that your calling the complaint line went well. It's refreshing when people on the other end of the phone are actually polite and helpful. I had this theory that all telephone operators were screened to be terse and unpleasant by nature.

These ones weren't Susie Sunshine or anything, but they were professional and effective. May have helped that it was 9:45 in the morning; they were probably fresh on their shift.

I got on the wrong end of that efficient noise-limiting system. The marching band I'm in was going to New York for a game and arranged to play before the football game in support of autism on some TV show. (I am TV illiterate so have no idea which). We got up early to get there - and were told it had been pushed back an hour because the residents would complain. Then, after we hung around for another hour, they said, "Actually, you can't play at all." Instead we just had to stand there with our instruments. And I made a fool of myself too. It was really frustrating.

That is more the TV station's fault than anyone else's. They probably failed to get whatever license they were supposed to have to let you play or something. Argh. I'm sorry!

Oh, I know. But you reminded me of it and man was it annoying! :)

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Argh; I am so lucky I grew up before they really started carding for R movies.

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