Friday, February 27, 2009

Military Housing

So, I got home today and found this letter in my door.

30 Day Notice of Relocation

"This is your official 30 day notice of relocation. The homes on Falcon Drive are scheduled for demolition."

There was obviously more words in the letter, but that was the main point. WHAT??? I couldn't help but laugh! Who lives in a home that is scheduled for demolition? Who moves into another home just one month before they move overseas? Who learns of this in such a nonchalant way? The answer? Me. Welcome to the military!

More Military Maze

More challenges! More victories! More defeats! Rob and I were so excited - we had just one last paper to turn in so the military would start to process our orders. I had done my dental appointment, gotten a cavity taken care of (first one in FOREVER!), done my physical, and everything I was supposed to do... or so I thought. I took my 1466D form to the dentist to get it signed and went to hand deliver it to base outprocessing where they do your orders. Apparently, base outprocessing is really hard to find - it's like one of those places that only those who've been there know where it is. Well, Rob had been led there and he drew me a map so I could make the journey too (see below). The people in the outprocessing office thought it was hilarious.

So I turned in my 1466D form and told her that the doctor who did my physical said he didn't need to fill out my 1466 form, that it was simply in the computer. She was very nice about it, but, well, it needed to be signed. Dead end.
I've got to give credit to Tyndall for their customer service! So far, a majority of the people I've been sent to see have been very nice. It makes the maze a lot more enjoyable.
So I went back to flight medicine to see if they could sign my form. Also, a very nice person there. She said, "Have you talked to Airman Teagarden." Oh no. Who's Airman Teagarden? I vaguely remember his name somewhere. I thought this form was only about the physical. No, the physical is the first step. Airman Teagarden schedules your mental health evaluation and that completes the form. She called over to Teagarden. He was doing the mental health appointments that very moment and was unreachable. Yes, he only does these appointments EVERY OTHER THURSDAY. Wait. You mean I have to wait TWO WEEKS until we can start to get our orders?? My spirit falls. It's true. I went to his office to be sure. They're very sorry, but they have to pre-screen your paperwork before they can see you and there's two other doctors that have to be a part of it as well. Also, you need to make sure and have your 1466D form done and bring it to the appointment. Wait. My 1466D form that I just turned into base outprocessing? Yes, that one.
So, I follow my treasure map once again to base outprocessing where she was happy to see me because I was bringing the last form... no, I need to take a step backward. Can I have the 1466D form back? The 1446 form people need to see it. So sad.
So, I have my mental health evaluation next week (the above event occurred last week) and I'm struggling because I'm worried I might come across as mentally unstable because I'm still a little bitter about the ridiculous bureaucracy. Pray for me to pass.

My First Cardio

So, I'm re-working out at the gym on base. I didn't realize exactly how awesome the gym was at Sheppard until I went to this one and found that I kept looking for basketball players wearing short shorts and tall socks. It's old. One can count the spots with peeling paint and mold to time with the music. But we work with what we have. I went to the "circuit training" class after, well, a long time of not doing any cardio. I was proud to discover that I have a good solid 30 minutes of cardio in me where I can jog, do jumping jacks, etc. and still look cool. After that, when the instructor says something like "Okay, now it's time for sprints! Great job everyone! Now double-time!" My brain shuts off and my body screams "Is she kidding!?! I. just. want. to. breathe." But today I was very thankful for my cardio class and I'll tell you why.

I got this new shampoo Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose which I've been meaning to try for a while. I'm going no sulfates with my shampoos and reaping the benefits of fabulously low maintenance great hair. Anyway, the shampoo smells like honeysuckle - really nice! But walking the dog today, I kept being followed by HUGE BEES!!! Not so scary until I remembered that my hair was what they were after! Not keen on bees possibly landing in my hair, I ran back home!

Thank you for cardio.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Atlanta: Bring it On

What to do with a three day weekend? McKay and I decided on Atlanta. It rained all the way and our "walk the city" plans started to look pretty grim, however as soon as we reached Atlanta the sun came out and all was well. The first stop was actually in Fort Benning, home of the mounted cav. When we slowed down I smelled burning and it turned out that the left headlight of McKay's car was starting a little electrical fire, it had smoke and everything, so I unplugged it and that solved the problem. Fort Benning is huge and full of hills, tanks, and Army guys, so it is a little different than the Air Force base. I learned that there is no way we could go to Atlanta without seeing Francie, McKay's bestest friend from birth to 11th grade. So we went to her place first. She is cool, her husband Brandon is also cool, and her by association. Therefore, our evening was also cool. We hung out for several hours, shared fun stories and had pizza. There was some great catching up and I have to hand it to these two ladies because there wasn't a single high pitched squeal of excitement. After dinner we headed downtown to our hotel where we discovered something peculiar...cheerleaders, everywhere. Atlanta was hosting the "Nationals", and for those of you who have never seen a cheerleader movie, the National Cheer and Dance Championships. 18000 cheerleaders have descended upon Atlanta, they were everywhere. Our hotel is the Ellis, it has the most friendly staff, sometimes a little too friendly, not creepy, but they acted like they were going to hang out with you and you were going to like it. Staying downtown was nice so we could walk to the Georgia Aquarium, discover that McKay left the tickets in the room, walk to the hotel, and walk back to the Aquarium in about an hour. The Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the world, which is neat. They have a tank where you can touch hand-picked rays and sharks that like kids. We got to see two kinds of otters, river ones and sea ones. They are pretty cute and you kinda want to take them home because they are like swimming ferrets and they were snuggling with this big foam heart toy, but then you realize that they are not snuggling they are wiping their scent on it and boy talk about potent scent. Needless to say, if you have them they should be outdoor pets. The aquarium has three Beluga whales which are as if the marshmallow man from Ghostbusters turned into a whale. The main attraction is the large tanks that contains 4 whale sharks, a huge manta ray and a ton of other fish. We sat and watched the big tank for a while and took the tunnel that runs underneath. After the Aquarium we had lunch at this "southern diner" owned by a Turkish guy and the chef is Guatemalan. McKay had the Greek sampler with a gyro, some kind of grape leaf wrapped nugget of goodness and other tasty stuff. I had a turkey melt, you know, 'cause the guy is from Turkey...anyway, it was good. The World of Coca-cola was next. Coke is the ultimate in marketing and is so good at convincing you that you need it that my lovely wife holds them as gods from her college educated world (she has a masters in marketing, I'm so proud). They gave a tour of a mini bottling facility, gave a history of the company and showed a pop art gallery which was so lame. But the crowning moments were the taste test of 65 different soft drinks owned by the Coke company from around the world and the theater of commercials from around the world and throughout time. We found an awesome pina-colada soda from Africa and a hilarious commercial from Mexico. In the evening we went to Nava, a fancy southwest style place that was awesome. McKay got an enchilada filled with duck and stuff that was pretty good but I win at food. I had a rack of lamb that was awesome; it was so good that taste overpowered most of my other senses and before I knew it I dropped my silverware. The amazing dish even overpowered my subconscious, I may have stopped breathing.

Dessert was good too, mine was chocolate cake and McKay got this chocolate cube filled with chocolate mousse topped with white chocolate whipped creme. Nava also has a really cool decor: our booth was lined with pillows like it was a lounge. psst, our waiter was so sneaky I almost didn't see him, just where he had been. Monday morning we walked down to the underground shopping center and passed the chess park. Beware of Atlanta parking garages, when we left for dinner we paid $6 per day the car was there, but we brought the car back at 11PM and left the next morning 11AM they charged $6 for Saturday (11PM to midnight) and $15 (the weekday price not posted on the weekend) for all day even though it was only 11AM. We were miffed but the excellent breakfast at the Flying Biscuit helped. I once again won at food. Biscuits and gravy at a place with biscuit in the name seemed like a no brainer and the "creamy dreamy grits" are so good they melt in your mouth, ha ha, but they were amazing. It was a really great trip.
Creepy Piranha just stare at you, all of them

Nice view of the big tank

Cute little otter
Ooooo, moon jellyfish
Big chess game in the park
Booth at Nava with pillows and a painting of 5 angry dogs

Everyone in the World loves Coke, you should too!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Adventures in the Military Maze

My adventure today started with navigating the bureaucracy of the Air Force by picking up a signed copy of Rob's rips (pre-orders) so I could take them to customer service (an ironic name) and turn in my passport application (only taken on Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30am to 10:30am). Sadly, my application was not typed (no one said anything about typed!) and I could not complete any bureaucracy at that time. The customer service lady who takes the application has the extraordinary talent of not listening to you at all while she explains in detail things you already understand while not answering your question you just asked. I left and actually had to let out an "AARRRGGGHHH!" when I got in the elevator.

I like to think of the military bureaucracy as a maze I have to figure out... "oh, this is a dead end. turn around and try again." In the right frame of mind, it can be a really fun challenge!

Additionally, we just studied about patience in our Bible study (something our culture practically teaches us to be without) and every once in a while we need to exercise our patience skills like working out our muscles, and the military is like my own personal trainer.

After the elevator, my day rapidly picked up. I typed the application, made it to my appointment across town, made some phone calls on my way there and back, picked up my library book that had just come in, and visited the farmers' market, among other things.

I love when this particular farmers' market is here (on 98 by the county fair grounds, for you locals). The prices are great! ($2 for a whole bunch of green beans, $3 for an equally whole bunch of potatoes, and $3 for about 6 huge tomatoes). Also, the people just know stuff. It's awesome! I asked about the tomatoes because Rob loves them here. He says he's never had a tomato that tasted this good, not even from the garden. So... I had to ask what kind they were. I learned that they're called "Better Boy" tomatoes (but I only learned this after having the poor man repeat it at least 8 times until he spelled it because I couldn't catch his southern twang accent! - Rob understands this accent perfectly.) He also said they may taste different because of different soil. Interesting. I also learned that the tomatoes in the grocery store are picked green (no surprise there) but that before they set them out, they gas them with something that makes their color change to red!! (gasp! No!) I'm never buying tomatoes in the grocery store again!... well... I won't like it when I have to! They also know me now because I bring my own bags, isn't that cute?

I also dropped by the kennel we're taking Gus to this weekend in order to, you know, take in his paperwork, but really I wanted to see the facility. Wow! Very nice! I'm actually a little jealous of him staying there because he's really going to enjoy it! It's Naju, for you locals.

Finally, I stopped by the customer service on the base again to try and turn in my paperwork (even though it wasn't in the hours specified, Theresa gave me the go ahead to turn it in if she was there - very gracious). And, VOILA! They knew me and sent me straight back to see her where I turned in my correctly typed application, all my forms, I.D., and a blood sample (just kidding). HALLELUJAH!!! Victory!! I practically danced out of the office.

And to top all this, I had the top down on the Miata today. I love my life.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

McKay's Green Tips

So I started to write an article-type entry synthesizing the research I did about going green and wondered why it didn't flow. Well, I don't like to write research papers. I like to DO research and learn, but relate said research in a more conversational, generalized, conclusion-oriented way. So, I'll include sources here and there, but won't berate you with facts and numbers - that's up to you!

First green tip: Buy local over organic.

I chose to buy local because local produce uses less energy to get to me, I like to support my local entrepreneurs, and the people who work those fruit stands are full of the most interesting information! They know where exactly the fruits and veggies come from, they give out free samples if you ask, they know where the local hot spots are, and they always have interesting histories. Get some local flavor!

Recycle, but don't expect a lot.

Oh boy! There are a lot of opinionated people on both sides of this issue! An
Economist's reasons against recycling. Basically, I recycle for the same reason I don't throw a perfectly good pair of jeans in the trash just because I don't wear them anymore. I don't like to know I ended the product's life cycle in my garbage.

These articles in Popular Mechanics were very helpful.

Popular Mechanics Dec 2008
Popular Mechanics:
Recycling by the Numbers
Popular Mechanics:
5 Half Truths about Recyling

I learned that metals are the only truly profitable thing to recycle right now; that recycling processes are getting better; that they're still not great; that maybe there's a plasma process that can burn our trash at super hot temperatures and produce water, energy, and carbon; and that I'll continue to recycle my cans, #1 & #2 plastics (nowhere around here takes more than that), paper, and glass. And, I'll try to buy things that have recyclable packaging, or better yet, contain recycled material AND are recyclable.

Reuse your glass.

A lot of places are not taking glass anymore to recycle. In order to recycle glass, it has to get broken down to what is basically sand. Since sand is still cheaper than recycling glass in most places, supply and demand are playing here. I suggest you buy recycled glass to close the recycling loop and help create a need for recycled glass. But mainly I suggest you buy glass that you can reuse. I put colored glass in concrete to make terrazzo, I use bottles for vases and candleholders, jars for cotton balls and bath salts, and I display bottles with intersting shapes. A friend of mine saves hers in her garage and takes them with her when she travels to places that recycle glass (like the next county or something,
not across the country!)

What about the trees?

One of the first things that really got me researching was the question of saving trees. I like trees. I want to keep trees in existence. Are they in danger? There sure are a lot of trees most places I've lived...

Question: If I buy recycled paper, does that reduce the price of trees? Does it reduce it so much that tree farmers can't make money and sell the farm to land developers who cut down all the trees?

Answer: Possibly. I contacted the
Division of Forestry here in Florida and that's happened a lot here recently, but not becuase the price of paper went down, but the price of land went up (before the recession). What's more, recycling paper is very close to the cost of producing virgin paper; the variables are how much it costs in gathering and transport of paper to be recycled. Once at the mill, it's pretty close. Right now, they gather and transport trees more efficiently. More about recycled paper: Treecycle recycled paper

Also, if you decide to "plant a tree" make sure you know where they're planting it and that it's a good type of tree for the area. Educate yourself!

To reduce my wasting paper towells, I put a basket of washcloths by my kitchen sink to use on spills and regular counter cleaning. I now hardly buy paper towells! Good for the pocketbook too!

Clean Green.

All you need is vinegar and baking soda.

Not only is it WAY cheaper than cleaning solutions, it actually cleans REALLY well! I use a solution (recycling my old 409 bottle no less) of half vinegar, half water, and 20 or so drops of lemon and grapefruit essential oil (well, until it smells nice) to clean my countertops, floors, carpet stains, faucets, bathtub, shower walls, sinks, toilet, all-purpose, you know.

I use baking soda to scrub the bathtub, tough countertop stains, and pour it down the drains to clean and freshen those.

You can also put some baking soda in your laundry load (1/4 to 1 cup) to brighten colors. For tough smells and fabric softening, use 1/2 cup of vinegar. I don't recommend using them together in the laundry - remember the volcano science fair projects?

Want other ideas? Google "green cleaning recipes"


Egad! Those energy saving bulbs that everyone is switching to contain mercury?! What!? It's true. And if everyone recycles them like they're supposed to recycle their batteries (seriously, when was the last time you recycled your remote's old AAs?) then, it's no big deal. But if everyone throws them away... that's a lot of mercury!

Be Smart!

Basically, I encourage you to be educated - know why you behave as you do as a consumer. Certainly, there are things I buy because I thought the package was pretty or the people on the commercial seemed to really like it, but I know that's why I bought it.

Don't just "go green" blindly. I'm preaching to the choir. Does that charger really use less electricy? Why exactly should I buy organic? How does bamboo's "sustainability" sustain in this increased demand?

Do you have awesome green ideas? Why do you act as you do as a consumer? Do you have other interesting links to articles?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

On our way to church yesterday, we saw the herd of turkeys that lives on base!! They don't look quite like I remember them in the illustrations for Thanksgiving. What's more... they can fly!!! Yea, turkeys can fly. And not crazy flapping chicken flight.They just open their wings and fly - kind of like quail or turkey vultures. Another car pulled up to look at them and the whole herd just took off into the air and flew into the trees! I was so shocked I forgot I had a camera, otherwise I would have snapped a picture of flying turkeys for you.

The turkey out front is the male.

As our church group's last send-off for fellow Air Force couple moving to Japan, we all went out to Olive Garden for lunch. Imagine the stunned face of the woman at the hostess stand when I ask for a table for 14 adults with 6 babies. It turns out that we didn't actually have 14 adults and 6 babies, though. We had 16 adults, 5 babies, two toddlers, one child... and a partridge in a pear tree. Per the usual, Rob and I were the only couple without one eye on an offspring. When asked how we feel about that, Rob blurts out, "self-controlled" - LOL!

We enjoyed our Super Bowl experience last year so much (remember the brie and hot wings?) that we decided to enjoy it at home again! So we each got our "Super Bowl food." Rob's was, again, hot wings. But this year, I got.... my own cookie cake!!!!!! YESSSSS! So our food was great and the game was great!

I couldn't resist taking a little nibble before I could even snap a picture. mmm.

Saturday, Rob and I took a little adventure shopping. It was so nice! I love going places with Rob! Anyway, we went to the mall to buy Rob some new jeans and look for new running shoes. Check. - Levi's and Under Armour's new shoe line - really neat. I also got some new shoes! This FABULOUS pair from Nine West (god, I love their shoes!)... on clearance... with a military discount! YAY! This may be the most wonderful wear-with-anything pair I've got since the pastel ribbon ones (Apartment of Fun roommies, you remember)

We also went to Pier Park (the fancy new outdoor mall), ate at the Hoffbrau House - YUM, bought some fudge, and shopped at other fun stores. It was a nice outing. We also bought... a second controller for the PS3!!! SO that means, I can play too!! Rob and I played Soul Caliber together and had so much fun! He is so sweet - he turns his power down and lets me turn mine up so the fight is a little more even. :-)

Hope your weekend was fun too! For comment fun, what was your favorite Super Bowl ad?