Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gram's Online!

Before the cruise we stopped off to see Gram and give her the family Christmas gift. A new computer! All of her kids and grandkids chipped in to get her online since she spends the winters in Florida away from the family. I was surprised how enthused Gram was and impressed with how quickly she picked up the basics. We scheduled her DSL install (Free install and modem was free after rebate, only 25$ a month for 1.5M, a great deal) and left her with the computer and a "computers for seniors" book while we went on our cruise. Oh yeah, we left Angel too, thanks for dogsitting Gram!

When we came back she was already online and using yahoo. We set her up with an account and created all of her contacts with family email addresses we'd been gathering and shot off an intro email. After that she took over and we made sure she replied to several and understood the basics before we headed home. She really did a great job and she is actually learning how to type properly (not just hunting and pecking). We are very proud of her for taking on the Internet.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Carnival Liberty

Our second cruise for the year was outstanding. Carnival called a few days prior to and asked if we wanted an upgrade. I told Rikki if she could bargain with them to get the price down to go for it. She did and they threw in a free bottle of champagne. The room and balcony was amazing, larger than most hotel rooms. The bathroom had a double sink and a whirlpool tub, it was very nice.

The first port visit was San Juan, Puerto Rico. The ship was scheduled to arrive at 1700, but was a few minutes late. The mad rush of people to get off the ship for the very brief port call was crazy and took us 45 minutes. I'm not sure why they even stop so late. San Juan was nice but we'd like to visit during the day time when more places are open.

In St Thomas we took the skyride to paradise point which had an amazing view of the entire island. It reminded me of Diamond Head without the long hike. We spent the majority of the morning there and enjoyed the cool weather and amazing views. We did a little shopping/touristing in the afternoon and headed back to the ship early.

St Marteen/Martin was spent at Orient beach on the French side of the island. The water was colder than expected and not a very good place to do any snorkeling. We rented chairs and an umbrella then just relaxed. Our pale complexions couldn't take much sun though so we overdid it on the sunscreen and kept to the shade. The Taxi ride back was scary but we made it in one piece.

The rest of the cruise went well though the Carribean is a bit rough in the winter (9-12 foot seas) so Rikki did get a little queasy. No more winter cruises for us. We are already looking forward to the family cruise in 2010 and will keep everyone updated, Carnival only books a max of 18 months out.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Thanks to the DVR I rarely watch any commercials. But once in a while I see a good one like Bloom's. And of course my all time favorite.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Finally Home

The trip back was rough. The walk to the airport dragging my luggage was a workout in itself. The line at Capodichino airport was about a half hour wait for Alitalia. They only checked my bags to the first stop so I had to pickup and re-check my luggage at every stop. Rome was hectic, after deboarding, picking up my luggage, I didn't realize I needed to go to a separate terminal until after I walked the entire airport. So I had to take a shuttle to a new terminal and check-in for with continental for the rest of my flighs. I only had about 2 hours between flights so I barely made it. The trans-atlantic wasn't bad in an aisle seat. Arriving in Newark I only had 1:25 until my transfer. Miraculously I was able to pick-up my luggage again, go through customs, re-check my bags and make it to the next terminal. I was a few minutes early so I met Rikki walking down to baggage claim. Two weeks is too long to be away from home.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Returning to Naples

   The walk from the airport seemed longer this time. I was tired after the unexpected delay in Paris. I checked in without any problems and was disappointed the wireless wasn't in range of my room until I found the Ethernet cable that actually worked. The connection was slow, more like DSL than the cable I am used to but I was glad to finally be back online. This week's training also went smoothly without any major problems. The garbage is still an issue in Naples, the touristy areas have been cleaned up but the garbage is still on the sides of the roads outside of the downtown area. I noticed a lot of stray dogs living off the garbage. I can't imagine what other animals are thriving from it. The weather is still pretty warm here but I didn't notice much of a smell. I wonder if the fact that the majority of the population lives under the most active volcano in Europe has anything to do with it? Why take care of the environment when it can turn on you at any time... Mount Vesuvius (Pompei) is the deadliest volcano in the World. It is prone to explosive eruptions. With 3 million people living in close proximity the next time it blows the death toll will be high.

Problems in Paris

   My flight from Bahrain to Naples did not go as smoothly. The Gulf air flight was delayed so I missed my connecting Air France flight from Paris to Naples. So I went to the desk after arriving at Paris and was told I could get another flight at 1200 instead of the 0930 I missed. Great, no big deal. So I had to go pick up my luggage since Paris doesn't allow luggage to go through to international destinations (what a pain, this happened last time too). So I find my luggage and then go back to Air France to get my adjusted ticket. They tell me they can't help and I have to go talk with Delta Airlines. But they did give me a voucher stating that since Air France partners with Gulf Air it was their fault and not mine that I missed the flight. At this point I've already walked about a mile, no joking. So I start hiking again, stand in another line at another counter for Delta. The delta lady looks at me like I am crazy and states "this has nothing to  do with Delta, none of your flights are Delta flights." Which was true, but not what I was looking for so I told her I know, I was told to come here, how do I get Naples? She directs me back to Air France. So another hike, another line, at another counter. I stand in two other lines before being directed to the right place. I go to an Air France service desk and again get the deer in the headlights look when I give her my eticket. She says she can't change my eticket because I don't have a reservation number. I point it out to her on the ticket and tell her since it is an eticket this is all I have. I find it really hard to believe how clueless everyone was. Granted I had a large flight itinerary, but shouldn't they be able to read them with some proficiency? She makes some phone calls, types incessantly at the computer frowning and shaking her head for the next 2 hours and finally pulls out a receipt pad and hand writes a "voucher" that I have to show with my boarding tickets at both Paris and Rome. There were no direct flights available so my 12 hour trip was now going to take over 24 hours. I then go through security again after walking for what seemed like miles dragging all of my luggage. Of course I had to throw away my water bottle to get through security again, but luckily the flights were short so I didn't get too dehydrated. The rest was pretty seamless. I'm so glad I am not going through Paris on the way back. I hate that airport. I've never seen a more complex and disorientating setup in my life. The taxi from runway to gate is at least 15 minutes and you have to take buses everywhere or walk for miles. Lesson learned, never fly through Paris.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


   The flight to Bahrain was pretty uneventful. Norfolk to Dulles to Frankfurt to Bahrain. I did get a little sleep on the trans-atlantic but it definitely wasn't as comfortable as my last trip when I was upgraded to 1st class. The food wasn't bad either, but of course since you can't bring any "liquids" greater than 4 oz with you I was dehydrated until I broke down and bought a 6$ bottle of water in Germany. The vendors running stores inside security must love the new TSA rules. One guy was stopped at security and his bottle of cologne was confiscated. Once arriving in Bahrain I made it to the Avis desk and they gave me a Toyota Yaris. This is one of the few cars that have come out and I thought I might actually buy. It was nice, except the lights don't automatically turn off so I drained the battery once and had to get jumped. The best part about the car was how little gas it used, by the end of the week I only used half a tank and it cost less than 7$. Gas was about a dollar a gallon. The drive to the hotel was uneventful only one traffic circle. Last time I drove in the mid-east was to Doha, Qatar. There were no stop lights there, just traffic circles. I envy their merging capabilities at 70+ mph, I wish more Americans knew how to merge like that.

   The Gulf Hotel was easily the nicest hotel I have ever stayed at. But due to power, Internet, and service issues it isn't even in my top 5 hotel stays. Internet cost 15$ per 2 hours and the wireless signal did not reach my room. Besides that it was dial-up speed. The breaker in my room was trippped so I didn't have any power in any outlets the first night. The 12+ restaurants/bars, massive pool, and elaborate design was very impressive. The gym was pathetic, less demand for exercising due to the heat I suppose. The week went by quickly and everything went well. I gave 5 training briefs and 1 executive overview on IT service management and IT infrastructure library.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Carnival Glory 2008

It has been 2 years since our last cruise so we were both looking forward to this one. I thought our 2006 Hawaiian cruise would be impossible to beat, but this cruise was much better than expected. Of course it helped that I was winning at the craps table. Although our ports of call could not compete with Hawaii they were good. Especially when Hurricane Omar caused our St Marten stop to be cancelled. I was very impressed with Carnival for scheduling a stop in Grand Turk to make up for the cancelled stop. Our cabin steward was the best we have ever had, and we did enjoy the scheduled early seating (we did have to change it to early since they gave us late seating even though we asked for it). Our last cruise was with Norwegian cruise lines (NCL) and their "freestyle" eating isn't as good as Carnival's nightly scheduled sit down meals. Though Carnival has also added an additional cost 5 star restaurant (30$ pp).

The ship was in great condition and the crew did an outstanding job. There were a ridiculous number of past Glory cruisers. It is a very popular ship. This cruise also hosted the 2008 goth and vampire convention. Only about 300 of them, but it was unique to see and talk to the very.... interesting people. The worst part about this cruise was that I had to come back and weigh-in for my bi-annual physical readiness test. I did stick to the "spa menu" for most of the meals and still had dessert after each. To make up for it I hit the gym every morning. Running on a treadmill on the 11th deck in light seas is a tough workout. Miraculously I lost 2 pounds during the cruise and passed the weigh-in without having to get taped (a more accurate body composition assessment, Navy requires < 22% body fat).

So overall this was better than the NCL cruise with the exception of the port calls. St Thomas and the Bahamas were nice and the Grand Turks was a great replacement for St Marten, but none of them were as nice as Hawaii.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Carnival Glory

Our last cruise was in 2005 on Norwegian's Pride of America.  It was a cruise of the Hawaiian Islands.  On Friday, October 10th we left Norfolk, VA to drive to Port Canaveral, FL.  We spent the night at Radisson Resort at the Port.  The Radisson offered a free shuttle to the cruise ship and then picked us up at the cruise terminal when we got back.  We spent $126 for the one night at the hotel.  We also had an awesome ready to made breakfast at the resort's restaraunt.  Nathan had an egg white omelet and I had belgian waffles.

Radisson Pool 2.JPG
Radisson Manatee.JPG








Our first stop was Nassau Bahamas.  We went to Atlantis via an $8 cab ride.  Talk about perfect timing.  After taking plenty of pictures of the resort aquarium we headed upstairs and outside to go for a walk around the resort.  We got outside in time to watch the fish get fed their breakfast.

Atlantis Aquarium 2.JPG

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Monday we spent the day at sea.

Tuesday morning before we got off the ship Captain Rocco announced that some excursions were cancelled.  He also announced that our stop in St. Marten would be cancelled due to Hurricane Omar that was expected to hit the island directly.  He was going to call the main office in Maimi and see if he could schedule an alternate port to stop at and would announce an update tonight.  That was kind of nerveracking.  The only thing I could think was that we were going to spend tomorrow floating in sea and I was going to be sick from wonderful motion sickness.  We got off the boat and spent the day in St. Thomas.  In St. Thomas we walked around.  It was very cloudy and eventually started raining.  We bought some Belgian Chocolate in St. Thomas.  Nothing too terribly exciting.  In the evening we found out Wednesday would be a day at sea and Thursday we would stop at Grand Turk.  That was an interesting surprise that an alternate port was scheduled within 12 hours..


Glory St. Thomas 2.JPG
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Wednesday was a day at sea.

Thursday we arrive in Grand Turk.  Grand Turk is a small island.  From what we were told the port there was just rebuilt about a week prior from a Hurricane that hit the islands earlier in the Hurricane season.  The biggest surprise to me was everything was right there at the port; shopping, swimming, beaches and restaraunts.  Yes we did buy a couple of things but we didn't spend a ridiculous amount.

Friday we spent the day at sea.

Saturday morning we arrived back at Port Canaveral and drove back to Norfolk, VA.

Below are some pictures of Formal Nights.  They were Sunday and Thursday.

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Glory Drawing 2008.jpg
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A big Thank You to our neighbors the Schwartz who watched Angel for us while we were gone!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Virginia State Fair 2008

We headed to the Virginia State Fair today.  My Uncle, Aunt and Cousin were going to meet up with us in the afternoon.  I packed a big lunch for us yesterday, assuming that we would meet up with everyone at about 1pm and that is when Nathan and I were planning on eating.  We didn't meet up until about 2pm and only had a couple of hours together.  We ended up leaving a little after 4pm as we still had a two hour drive home.

It was a beautiful day.  It was in the 80's but it wasn't as bad waiting for rides as we thought.  We had on suntan lotion, had water and stood in the shade where and when possible.

Nathan and I had a great time walking around and watching some of the shows in the morning; a duck race, a pig race and an extreme canine show.  We didn't hit any of the rides until after we met up with my Uncle.

Next year the state fair will be off of I-95, North of Richmond.  I don't think we will be going.  The drive is too far.

Swing Round 2008 5.JPG

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Swing Round 2008.JPG

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My New Watch - Garmin 405 Forerunner

So I've taken some flak over the years for my Casio calculator watch I've worn since high school. I've always chosen my watches for their functionality and not their fashion. Finally the latest line of GPS watches have been miniaturized enough to be feasible for daily wear. Rikki bought it for me as an anniversary present and so far I've been pretty impressed.

I'm not a fan of Garmin. I don't know how they've come to dominate the GPS market. I've used superior mapping and GPS products by Delorme. But, they have become the standard these days and I'm hoping they have improved since we bought our last GPS about 4 years ago.

Rikki bought me the full package including the heart rate monitor. This watch is perfect for any runner to train and track progress. Check out what it can do. I even took it for a run in Cabot, VT. The biggest drawback is the battery life. With GPS enabled the watch only lasts 8 hours. So far I have to charge it about once a week, annoying as a watch, but understandable for what it does.

Another cool technology is the automatic download to my computer and update to the Internet. The Heart Monitor and the small USB plugin automatically sense the watch and start working when you are within a few feet. After a workout the watch downloads the data to the computer and then uploads to the mygarmin website automatically.

Overall I'm very impressed and thanks to Rikki for a great gift.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Backing up photos remotely

We've used Xdrive in the past to backup photos but we now have over 5 gigs so xdrive is no longer an option. Luckily a new website has come along and is trying to compete. Adrive has 50 gigs of free remote storage. I recommend everyone do a remote backup. You never know what might happen to your computer or even your entire house. The upload is slow and troublesome on large uploads. But you can't beat a free remote backup, especially 50 gigs.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Slang History

"cost you an arm and a leg"
In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are "limbs," therefore painting them would cost the buyer more.

"big wig"
As improbable as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year! (May and October) Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good wigs made from wool. The wigs couldn't be washed, so to clean them they could carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term "big wig." Today we often use the term "here comes the Big Wig" because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.

In the late 1700s, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board was folded down from the wall and used for dining. The "head of the household" always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Once in a while, a guest (who was almost always a man) would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal. To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. Sitting in the chair, one was called the "chair man."

Needless to say, personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another woman's face she was told "mind your own bee's wax." Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term "crack a smile." Also, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt and therefore the expression "losing face."

Ladies wore corsets which would lace up in the front. A tightly tied lace was worn by a proper and dignified lady as in "straight laced."

Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the "Ace of Spades." To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead. Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren't "playing with a full deck."

Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what was considered important to the people. Since there were no telephones, TV's or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars who were told to "go sip some ale" and listen to people's conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at different times. "You go sip here" and "You go sip there." The two words "go sip" were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we have the term "gossip."

At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in "pints" and who was drinking in "quarts," hence the term "minding your "P's and Q's."

One more: Bet you didn't know this! In the heyday of sailing ships, all
war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon, but how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem...how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a "Monkey" with 16 round indentations. But, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make "Brass Monkeys." Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, "Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey." (And all this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't

You must send this fabulous bit of historic knowledge to at least ten unsuspecting friends. If you don't, your floppy is going to fall off your hard drive and kill your mouse.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My 29th Birthday!!

Man am I old!  I am now 29 :p  It is kind of horrible knowing that in less than a year I will be the BIG 3-0.  I know some of you are saying that she is crazy.  But you know what, I realized that you can still die at the age of 29.  Not only that but some of you don't know the Tyner theory; 25 is half way to 50 which is about 30 to 50 away from death.  That is not fun!  So you see I am 29 which is way closer to 50 which is way closer to the hole in the ground.  Life is honestly too short!

Okay so for my birthday.  Nathan tried to make me breakfast in bed.  I needed to go work out after our binging trip to VT and MA.  We went for our run/bike ride.  Got home, ate our normal breakfast and then headed to the Commissary/Exchange.  I picked up a couple of things Nathan wanted to make homemade ice-cream for tonight and then I met him at the exchange to pick up dog food.  When we got home and I was making veggie lasagna for dinner (healthy but needed some carbs) Nathan was busy hiding presents around the house.  Very cute!  When I found all the gifts there were a total of 4; perfume, folding table for my all-in-one pc keyboard and mouse (I do my work on the couch and holding a keyboard and mouse in lap aren't ergonomically correct), strainer and 24 cupcake holder.  So I was one spoiled birthday girl!

Nathan made homemade mint oreo ice-cream for me for dessert.  It was yummy :)

There was a party in VT for me before we left there; the 22nd.  There was also a party in MA before leaving there; the 23rd. 

Jibjab - Time for some campaigning

Jibjab has finally made a come back since their last good political video "This Land" back in 2004. It has been long overdue. I really enjoy my political cartoons and since my favorite Cox and Forkum stopped their work months ago jibjab is the only other website I still check on once in a great while. Jibjab is the next logical step in political cartoon evolution. Too bad no one else is making these as successfully. This Land made national news in 2004, I'm not sure if this one will. Check out Time for some Campaignin'.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blog is back up

So we had some problems with the blog.  The IP address changed while we were back in VT.  How nice!!  Anyway the blog is back up.  Hopefully everything is working properly.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

4th of July

Our 4th of July was a near washout.  Nathan was on call that evening so we didn't venture far to watch the fireworks.  At about 9:00pm we headed to the bay on base to watch some of the fireworks from the towns on the Peninsula.  There was some lightning but no rain and no thunder.  About 15 minutes into watching three different town fireworks, it started to rain, the lightning was closer and you could hear thunder.  We headed into the car to try to watch the rest of them.  We aren't sure if some towns cut their shows short or if they actually finished but we headed back home at 9:30pm.  Downtown Norfolk cancelled their show since it wasn't scheduled to start until 9:30pm.  The fireworks were rescheduled for Saturday night but we haven't heard whether or not they were a success.  The weather here on Saturday was a repeat of Friday's weather.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Evening Kayaking

 It has been kind of miserable here this last week.  It is already 80 degrees at 7:00am and we have been in the mid 90's.  During one of the thunderstorms last week, lightning hit a tree and some dry brush and started a fire.  This is down in Raleigh, NC.  As of yesterday morning the fire was only 30% contained.  Since the winds are blowing from the south all the smoke, haze and horrible burnt rubber smell is blowing up here.  So all of that combined with the 90 something weather has been miserable.

I wanted to head out and check on FluffBall and since we stayed inside all day today because it was miserable out Nathan wanted to take the kayak out.  Nathan has taken the kayak out two other times but hadn't taken Angel out.  Tonight Angel got to experience a kayak ride with her dad.

Angel did pretty well and seemed to really enjoy it for the first 10 minutes.  I walked away after taking a handful of pictures and was out of her line of sight.  As soon as I did that Nathan said she was antsy.  I walked back to get some more pictures and I could hear Angel wimpering.  She saw me and jumped out of the kayak and right into the water.  She tried to swim back to me but she was tiring out.  Nathan picked her up and put her back in the kayak.

From the bay they headed back to the piers.  Angel jumped into the water again.  This time Angel tried to jump into the kayak but that wasn't working out.  Nathan picked her up and put her back in the kayak.  They finally made it to the end of piers and then headed back to dock.  It was rather interesting.  Below are some pictures of their adventure.


Heading out into the bay.JPG
Angel Bails 2.JPG

Angel back in Kayak.JPG
Big boat little kayak.JPG
Picture from the side.JPG
Rinsing the kayak.JPG

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Fuzzball Reunited

We checked on Fuzzball last night and he was reunited with his mother and sibling. I ran by the marina again this afternoon and the whole family was back together. They looked pretty good. The ducklings are still covered in only down without feathers so I don't think they can survive alone at night in the 60 degree water with the temperature dropping into the 50's. It turns out you are supposed to raise ducklings just like baby chicks. Heat lamp and everything. I doubt he would have survived that night if we left him.

I tried to take some video with my cell phone but it saved it in an odd quicktime format. Fuzzball Reunited.3g2


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Our FluffBall

Here is some video of our Friday night project.  Angel thought it was food not friend.  Nathan tried to tell her friend not food but that really wasn't working for her.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

My First Tornado

Rikki already posted the cool pictures and told the majority of the story. I had just come back from a meeting in Virginia Beach and was filling the car at a gas station on base when the sirens went off. The other person in the opposite lane filling up their car looked at me and we both shrugged. I continued pumping gas. A few seconds later the rain slowed down a little bit, the sky became darker and the wind started gusting oddly. I was partially shielded by the hobby shop but looking across the street I saw a swirling of the rain and suddenly a huge piece of tin turned into a projectile went flying. Several trees were blown over and a tractor trailer container in the parking lot was flipped. I finished up pumping gas, jumped in the car, and drove home to find Rikki in the closet. The siren went off a few more times. But, nothing serious. Our house is a mult-family complex, two story brick, 1940's construction so we are about as safe as we can be. Watching the weathermen on TV was funny, no one knew the last time a Tornado had hit the area. Our luck with natural disasters is uncanny. Everyone should prepare for the "big one" once we move out to California.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tornado 04/28/08

As mother nature hasn't shown herself enough to us, we got the wonderful opportunity to meet her in her wind of fury form.

Monday morning we check the weather like always and there was a low chance of tornados but a high chance of severe winds and heavy downpours.  Okay so typical spring southern weather.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  It was already gray and cloudy outside so I thought that I would take Angel out to play at the field earlier instead of later because I didn't want us caught outside in the afternoon thunderstorms.

I took the rest of the day as a lazy day and did research for the business and for MSBA (Military Spouse Business Association).  I did a little cleaning and didn't get into the shower until later in the afternoon.  As soon as I got out of the shower and came downstairs I turned on the news.  No news but tornado watch being issued.  I thought okay it is not that bad and it isn't raining so I sat on the couch and checked my email.  Ten minutes later a tornado warning.  I started to get nervous.  I tried to call Nathan at work to let him know the weather was getting bad and to be cautious.  Of course I couldn't reach him.

Fast forward to an hour later.  Two tornados were confirmed on the ground in Suffolk and that same cell is on its way to the base.  I tried calling Nathan again to let him know and to tell him to be careful or get his butt home now.

Fast forward to 15 minutes before I was actually going to take shelter in a closet.  I called my mom in Kansas to let her know what is going on.  To get some advice, since she now lives in tornado alley and because I was obviously going to go through this by myself with Angel.  I got off the phone with mom took my purse into the closet downstairs, grabbed the thickest blanket/sleeping bag and pillow from upstairs and brought them downstairs to the closet, put on my shoes, took everything out of the closet that I was going to hide in and then I took Angel and covered us up in the blanket and pillows.  One minute after getting into the closet, just 2 minutes before the cell was supposed to hit the base, I hear the base siren go off.  My heart is officially beating very quickly, I have Angel freaking out because I am not calm and possibly because she actually senses something.  The siren for the base goes off again.  I am praying to please let me live through this and I hope Nathan is safe.  The siren goes off for the third time.  I am at this point saying please just get it done and over with.  I can't stand the wait.  About 30 seconds later the biggest wind gust I have ever heard blew through the area.  I am still in the closet with Angel and don't want to get out because I am not sure if that was it or if that was just a tease warning.

Nathan comes in the door looking for us.  I tell him we are in the closet.  He says the tornado passed and that he saw it and was nearly in it.  I freak out and get out of the closet and check him.  He is not bleeding anywhere but I get out the closet shaking and on the verge of crying.

I let Nathan tell you about his experience and what happened.

There was another cell that passed through the base an hour and a half after that first cell but no twister was reported or seen with that cell.

The next morning when I had the guts and it was a little warmer, I armed myself with the camera and headed out to take some pictures.  Angel and I couldn't find anything extensively damaged as it was later in the morning I was pretty sure a majority of the mess was already cleaned up or taken care of.  There were some things we saw that I will share.  I am also going to share some photos that were passed onto us from one of our neighbors.

I think are official count with mother nature is a dozen hurricanes/tropical storms, one earthquake, and one tornado.  We are looking at seeing earthquakes more often come 2010 as we move out west.  Got to love this :)

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Branches knocked down.jpg
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N 0804282008 Normandy getting hit by Funnel Cloud.jpg

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Broken by tornado.jpg

Monday, April 21, 2008

32nd Birthday!

Nathan is still recovering from hernia surgery so I tried to make sure that he had all his favorites for his birthday.  He is still feeling kind of weak and not up to par so I wanted to make his birthday a little more exciting.  Wheat blueberry pancakes were for breakfast.  Hot dogs were for lunch.  For dinner I made chicken and dumplings, corn and salad.  Birthday cupcakes were strawberry and cream cheese filled strawberry cupcakes with strawberry buttercream frosting.  Yes if you were wondering he loves strawberries.  All turned out okay and I think Nathan enjoyed his birthday.  Some pictures below.

Birthday sign 041908.JPGMaking himself comfortable 041908 2.JPG

Birthday cupcakes 041908.JPG

Presents 041908 10.JPG

Birthday dinner 041908 2.JPG

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Nathan's Battle Wound

A picture of Nathan's wound three days after surgery:

Hernia Incision 03312008.jpg








A picture of Nathan's wound 13 days after surgery:

Hernia Incision 04102008.jpg








Nathan doesn't have to go back to the doctor unless he has some complications or he thinks the hernia is back.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Week in Naples

   After a year at my latest job I was given a chance to go to Naples to inspect one of our detachment sites. It was a very good deal and made several other people jealous (though I didn't get the hawaii trip). I was one of about a dozen inspectors going over. Bad weather in New York grounded most of our saturday flights. I rescheduled for sunday and went home. Little did we know the lead inspector cancelled the inspection! So only the 3 of us that didn't get the word flew out sunday. My rescheduled flight went through Atlanta (lesson learned, check the weather and pick a non-northern major hub for international flights) to Paris and straight to Naples. Because of the rescheduling my 2nd leg was full so I was upgraded to business class. I took advantage of the free wine, fine dining, and fully reclining seats for the trans-atlantic flight.

   I made my connecting flight without too much of a problem, but Paris required shuttle buses to take us to another terminal and I had to go through security again. I actually did remember a little french from H.S. Paris smelled funny, but maybe it was just all the sweaty travellers. Air France took me the rest of the way.

   Naples has a small airport and as we came in for a landing I noticed a large building with a few radomes on it that must have been where I needed to go. I picked up my luggage and started walking. It was a little further than expected (about 15 minutes) but I made it to the base easy enough. I stayed on base at the Capo Inn. It was nice, 3 rooms, with a full kitchen. It wasn't until someone called me later that night that I found out the inspection was cancelled. After a few phone calls it was decided that those of us that showed would inspect our areas as planned.

   The next day I checked in with our detachment and commandeered one of the vehicles that was supposed to be for the lead inspectors. Lucky for me they were prepared for the inspection so my job was pretty easy though checking everything was time consuming. For the rest of the week I spent the morning inspecting and tried to get out early afternoon to see some of the sights. Even though I had a vehicle I took the local bus to get downtown and learn my way around. After seeing Italian drivers in action I decided not to use the vehicle. They don't use rearview mirrors and there must be no such thing that translates into "a safe driving distance" in Italian. If there is an opening they take it. I know I always complain about people that can't merge into traffic, Italians don't have this problem. While traffic circles in Dubai is the most dangerous driving I have ever experienced, Italians are a close second.

   I managed to use the local buses without any major problems. I made it downtown and toured castle nuevo, the boardwalk, palace, local parks, and the shopping district. It is interesting visiting countries with a history more than a couple of hundred years old. Mount Vesuvius is the most dangerous active volcano in the World. It is on a 50 year eruption cycle and it is overdue to blow. A lot of people will die when that happens. It will be impossible for the whole city to evacuate quickly. I hope it won't be another Pompei. Unfortunately, I didn't get to tour Vesuvius or Pompei, maybe next time.

   Naples has been in the US news the last few months because of their garbage problem. It is really sad to see a tourist economy like Naples destroy itself because of such a simple problem. Garbage was everywhere. The downtown and tourist sections were "better" but still noticeable. It will literally take years for the city to cleanup. Out in the countryside it is much worse. Along the interstates trash lines the roads and at one point someone set fire to it and there were 2 fire trucks trying to put it out. Luckily the temperatures were still below 70 degrees so the smell wasn't noticeable. It will be stiffling in just a few months. Restaurants are closing, cruise ships are cancelling port calls, and the economy is going to spiral down quickly. If you want to see Europe cheap and have no sense of smell Naples will be the place to go!

   I did buy myself some nice leather shoes, Rikki a lot of chocolate and a few souvenirs, and 6 bottles of wine for the both of us. I packed the wine extremely well for the trip back. I wrapped each in one of my white t-shirts. Put them in the cardboard box made to hold them and then put them in a big plastic bag in the middle of my luggage. With all that the baggage handlers still managed to break one. Bottles of wine are not easy to break! Luckily my good packing job prevented any of my clothes from being ruined (yes, due to murphy's law the bottle that broke was red wine) and my now red shirts came out fine with a little bleach. The flight back in coach was a lot more miserable. I was in the aisle with 2 people with weak bladders beside me. I watched a lot of movies and didn't get any sleep.

   I made it home and was in bed by 2 a.m. to get up at 6 a.m. to run the Shamrock half marathon. Not the brightest decision I ever made, but I had already paid for it and wasn't going to let lack of sleep stop me. I finished in 1:55:22. Not too bad, my goal was to keep it under 2 hours.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Hernia Repair Surgery

   After putting this off since college I finally took the time to get it fixed. It has never been painful, I could feel it when I twisted just right or sneezed, but I never bothered to take care of it. Originally I procrastinated because the Navy wouldn't cover the operation while I was in college. After my commission I delayed because I was in flight school and couldn't afford 2 months of limited duty, being in a non-flying status or even be medically disqualified. So I finally have decent shore duty and the opportunity to take care of things.

  The past few months Rikki and I have been working out pretty consistently and even doing some weight training so I was actually in really good shape for the operation and recovery. Rikki was really nervous for me, so it was nice not having to worry about the operation. My Doc was really good and his first victim cancelled so I went in first thing when we showed up (always schedule first surgery of the morning/afternoon so you don't have to wait around). They knocked me out and carved me up with no problems.

   The worst part for me was the sore throat from them shoving a tube down it. I really don't see why that is necessary, especially since I spent the next 3 days coughing from it. Coughing after you've had your abdomen wall cut open isn't a fun experience. The first 2 days I spent laying on the couch and I took Vicodin so I could sleep and to make going to the bathroom less painful, but after that I was on ibuprofen for 2 days and then was fine. I wasn't in as much pain or immobile as I was afraid I would be. After 5 days I went for a short walk and now 2 weeks later I went for a slow jog. I'm not supposed to lift anything over 20 lbs for 2 months, but I'm already about 90% and keep forgetting I'm even injured. I haven't started any ab exercises or pushups yet, they still hurt. But besides using the muscles directly I'm in good shape. I go back to work Friday, it was nice to have 2 weeks off.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hernia Surgery

We got a call yesterday afternoon that Nathan needed to report to surgery check-in at 8:00am.  He wasn't scheduled to have surgery until 10:00am.  We were up at 6:00am and left the house at 7:00am.  We checked in at 7:30am (due to no traffic).  At 8:10am the nurse saw him to take vitals and get a family history.  When she was done she took us to the after check-in, out-patient, surgery waiting area.  We sat in there for 5 minutes and then the nurse called us back in because the 8:00am surgery patient cancelled.  So when they tell you to show up two hours prior to your surgery, do it.  You never know you can be called in for surgery early.  Even with being bumped up early for surgery it still took another 45 minutes to prep, get another family medical history and then have IVs put in.  He was off for surgery at 8:50am.

Portsmouth Hospital was good.  I was only offended once when one of the nurses asked who I was in relation to Nathan.  I said wife and she said sorry I wasn't sure; you could have been a mistress or lover.  I mean who really brings their mistress?!  Although I laughed harder than she did because I am Nathan's lover but I am also his mistress.  There are three "beings" in our marriage; Nathan, I and the Navy.  So really I know in the Navy's eyes I am the mistress.  Anyway, aside from that, the surgical team has a phone placed in the surgery waiting room.  Twenty minutes after they wheeled Nathan into surgery and I headed for the waiting room they called me in the waiting room.  They called to let me know that everything was going well and on time and that he was doing well.  I assumed this meant that he was unconscious, had the tube down his throat, was shaved and all heart monitoring leads were placed on him.  It was just another 45 minutes from then until he was done.  The 45 minutes went by and Dr. Sharpe took me from the waiting room to the consulting room to let me know the incision was small, everything went well, he was in post surgery recovery, where I couldn't see him, and that I needed to call to make an appointment post surgery in two weeks.  Dr. Sharpe also gave me all the info I needed for how to take care of the bandages and the medications that were going to be prescribed.

Thirty minutes after surgery a nurse's assistant came to get me to let me know that he was now moved into post recovery.  I went to see him and he was awake.  He was getting ready to have something to drink and to eat; apple juice and graham crackers.  While he was letting the food settle to make sure he wasn't going to throw up and while he waited to see if Dr. Sharpe was going to come back down to sign some more paperwork I went to get his medication.  It only took me two minutes to get his medication.  There was a special window at the hospital pharmacy for discharged patients.

I went back upstairs and Nathan was discharged after we went through yet another explanation of what signs meant Nathan's incision was infected and when he could have what medication.

We made it home at 1:00pm.  So all in all not that bad.  It was a better procedure than we expected but I think that is because his surgery was pushed up and we didn't have to wait a couple of hours.  I called Dr. Sharpe's assistant and made sure I had a confirmation for Nathan's post surgery appointment.  We go back to see Dr. Sharpe on the 10th and at that time Nathan will have to have paper work signed to excuse him from the PRT.

We will try to keep you all updated on his recovery. 

Sunday, March 16, 2008

He's Back

At midnight last night he had walked off the plane.  There was a 20 minute delay in his flight from Washington/Dulles to Norfolk.  He was very tired after traveling and getting no sleep for 24 hours.  He bought some nice gifts for those that requested them and took plenty of pictures and video.  Once I get caught up on organizing the pictures I will post some here.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

He's Off

Nathan is finally off.  After 3 delays and finally a cancellation yesterday I went and picked him up at the airport.  The poor guy sat at the gate for 7 hours and then spent another 2 hours trying to rebook his flight and get his luggage back.  He spent $3 on bottled water and didn't have much to eat.

Nathan was dropped back off at the airport this morning and so far all is going well.  He is currently boarding for his second leg.  He will arrive in Naples at 6:50am EDT tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sick Angel

Angel and I were at vet hospital from 9:00am to about 1pm.  Angel has been very sick.  Monday morning at about 1:30am she threw up a couple of times.  I washed the blankets from my bed and wiped up the throw up from the rug and bathroom floor.  Neither Nathan nor I got much sleep after that.  She threw up off and on all morning.  Nathan did some research online and we thought she was sick because she didn't eat any dog food on Sunday after we went out for a run/bike ride.  She did lick our plates clean after we had supper but we don't recall hearing her eat her own food at all that night.  Monday morning she tried some water and to eat some grass outside but an hour later that all came up.  I called the vet on base on Monday afternoon after she had thrown up for the 12th time.  No appointment available and I was told to take her to emergency care since she wasn't keeping any water down.  We decided not to take her to the hospital on Monday but to try to get her to eat and drink for us because once we reached noon on Monday she wasn't eating or drinking anything, yes this includes human food.  Nathan was nice enough to play bad guy and at about 5pm on Monday he forced half a tablet of Mylanta down Angel's throat.  She didn't throw up for the rest of the evening and we did get her to eat about 1/2 teaspoon of wet dog food.  Tuesday at 2:00am Angel came downstairs to get some water.  Nathan followed her downstairs to make sure she was okay and to see if she would throw up the water.  I got up at about 2:30am and sat downstairs with everyone and at 3:00am Angel hadn't thrown up so we went back to bed.  At 3:30am after much tossing and turning Angel coward to her bed upstairs and threw up in it.  Half the water she drank an hour and a half ago.  I got up to wash her bed and grab some towels and an old t-shirt of mine to wrap her up in because she finally seemed like she would fall asleep and this would hopefully protect the bed from being thrown up on.  At 4:30am after getting Angel settled and working on my 4th load of throw up laundry, Nathan thought that he would get up and go into work early.  With Nathan in the bathroom I laid down with Angel for half an hour.  Angel threw up the other half of the water she drank at 2:00am.  At this point, I decided I would get up too.  I removed all the bedding and did yet another load of laundry.  The mattress needed to be wiped down too.  No food or water for the rest of the morning and at 8:00am called the vet hospital to make sure it was okay to bring her in.  At 8:40 Angel and I took off for the hospital after various blood work, an exam and x-rays the dr concluded that she must have a viral bug.  Trying to feed her water and food on Monday was a bad idea since Angel wasn't able to keep water down she was throwing up the water plus stomach acids.  Yesterday before we left the hospital at 1:00pm Angel got a shot of medicine to help prevent the constant vomiting, she got a shot that injected a dissolvable IV patch under her skin.  Angel weighed in at 14lbs and was very dehydrated.  For the next four days our regimen will consist of small amounts of water at a time, vomit preventing medicine which has some horrible side effects that I will not divulge as I am feeling horrible for giving her this medicine, and a diet bland can of wet food to help with some of the dehydration.  So far this morning we are throw up free.  WOOHOO, no getting up at 2:00am required well with the exception of the nasty thunderstorms that made us all jump out of bed this morning.  I believe we all got about 8 hours of sleep last night after being in bed for 12 hours but it was a long 2 days.  Angel has had some water and Nathan was nice enough to play bad guy again to get Angel to take her medicine.  It has been an hour since then and no throw up yet but I will be keeping a very close eye on her.  If Angel still is unable to keep food and water down come the end of the week we are told to go back in on Saturday/Monday for more blood work and other tests.  Please keep your fingers crossed that all will be okay.  Nathan is on a plane Saturday afternoon for Italy and I don't want a sick doggie.  It has been hard and very weird to not take Angel out or to have her beg to go out.  She is feeling that yucky.  It has been beautiful here too nearly 70 or in the lower 70's.  The dr and vet tech both commented that she must really not be feeling that great because when they prodded Angel with the thermometer she didn't even flinch.

Still no word yet from the state or the police.  Nathan thinks the guy may just have admitted fault to the accident since he couldn't flee from the scene and she (I still don't know her name or how she is) clearly saw and pointed at him after she was questioned and stood up from her SUV.  This would be nice because I would rather just try to forget the whole thing and not be asked to show up in court.

Friday, February 22, 2008

February 22, 2008 — The Baby A&W deliverance level is Guarded, or Blue.

The Baby A&W Deliverance level is Elevated, or Yellow, for all travel greater than 50 miles from location of future delivery. At no time should the carrier (Sarah) travel alone outside of the specified area. While there continues to be no credible information at this time warning of an imminent delivery, the strategic delivery perspective of family and friends is that we are in a period of increased risk.

Recommended Activities

  • All Family and friends should continue to be vigilant, take notice of the carrier and her surroundings, and report any suspicious carrier activities immediately.

  • Everyone should establish an emergency preparedness kit and emergency plan for the carrier, and stay informed about what to do prior to and during the delivery.


   1.   Low Condition (Green). This condition is declared when there is a low risk of delivery. Family members and friends should consider the following general measures in addition to the regular Protective Measures they develop and implement:

   1.  Refining and exercising as appropriate preplanned checklists and procedures on how to handle the delivery;

   2.  Ensuring personnel receive proper training on the Baby A&W Deliverance Advisory System and specific preplanned roles and Protective Measures; and

   3.  Institutionalizing a process to assure that all facilities and required conveyance are regularly assessed for availability and suitability, and all reasonable measures are taken to mitigate any foreseeable problems.

   2.  Guarded Condition (Blue). This condition is declared when there is a general risk of delivery. In addition to the Protective Measures taken in the previous Condition, Family and friends should consider the following general measures in addition to the regular Protective Measures that they will develop and implement:

   1.  Checking communications with designated chauffeurs and deliverance facilities.

   2.   Reviewing and updating emergency response procedures; and

   3.  Providing family and friends with any information that would be conducive to ensuring open communications throughout the event.




3.     Elevated Condition (Yellow). An Elevated Condition is declared when there is a significant risk of delivery. In addition to the Protective Measures taken in the previous Conditions, Family and friends should consider the following general measures in addition to the Protective Measures that they will develop and implement:

1.     Increasing surveillance of carrier (aka Sarah);

2.     Coordinating emergency plans and procedures as appropriate with family and friends;

3.     Assessing whether the precise characteristics of the delivery require the further refinement of preplanned Protective Measures; and

4.     Implementing, as appropriate, contingency and emergency response plans.

4.     High Condition (Orange). A High Condition is declared when there is a high risk of delivery. In addition to the Protective Measures taken in the previous Conditions, Family and friends should consider the following general measures in addition to the regular Protective Measures that they will develop and implement:

1.     Coordinating necessary pre-planned responses with designated escorts and chauffeur;

2.     Taking additional precautions at public events and possibly considering alternative venues or even cancellation in case of early arrival;

3.     Preparing to execute contingency procedures, such as moving to an alternate site or dispersing their family and friends to be available at various times and locations; and

4.     Restricting access to carrier once mood swings and general grumpiness from excess baggage starts to peak. Carrier access should be limited to essential personnel only.

5.     Severe Condition (Red). A Severe Condition reflects a severe risk of delivery. Under most circumstances, the Protective Measures for a Severe Condition are not intended to be sustained for substantial periods of time. In addition to the Protective Measures in the previous Conditions, Family and friends should consider the following general measures in addition to the Protective Measures that they will develop and implement:

1.     Increasing or redirecting personnel to address critical emergency needs;

2.     Assigning emergency response personnel and pre-positioning and mobilizing specially trained teams or resources;

3.     Monitoring, redirecting, or constraining transportation systems; and

4.     Completely restricting access to the carrier to prevent regrettable communication. Carrier access should be limited to the individual originally at fault for the carriers condition.