However, I'm trying to make this more of a journal of my life and not simply a place to record the potholes on the road of life. Along those lines, here's a short(ish) summation.
Shuttle 6/7 (Car) - Shuttlepod Priestly (my Honda Fit), while paid off, is starting to have problems meeting the adjusted mission parameters. When I bought it in 2010, I was planning on one adult, a six and a 10 year old as the max passenger load. With loading stuff in the way back and the front passenger seat, that was enough car for trips with enough luggage for cons and such.
However, lately I've been moving two adults and three children, all of whom cosplay. For all it's magic when it comes to storage space, the Fit is not rated for that sort of haulage. Moreover, being able to give the girls more space might make life easier for everyone. So I'm looking at an upgrade. Right now the most likely candidate for my seventh car is the Mazda 5.
Hawkeswood Station (Home) - it is coming along really well. Most of the easy interior stuff and the major decrufting are done. Next in the short term are going through both my mundane and cosplay closets with an eye towards sending a bunch of stuff that I'm unlikely to use on to a new home where it will.
My younger daughter has gotten behind the decrufting effort in her room (with a little help), while the older one has dug in behind barricades made of clothes and books. More on that story as it develops.
The longer term plan has the same parts as before, but I still haven't figured out the best order of pursuing them. The house could use three things for long term use: a bathroom on the first floor, an improved HVAC system and a bedroom on the first floor. The bedroom is a really long term need, but I'd like to be in a place where I can live on one floor most of the day if needed.
Life in General - Good, mostly. I've been fortunately to meet someone wonderful and who has become a big part of my life over the last two years. I still have the stresses from work, the Reserves, and getting the girls through the day with the minimum daily allowance of healthy food, homework and sleep, but things are still going pretty well.
The combination of consolidating my debt under a loan from my Thrift Savings Plan, wiping out some more by dropping my tax refund on it and being a little better about eating at home has made the financial picture much rosier. I'm not rolling in it, but I feel a lot more comfortable going forward.
The Near Term - I'm planning a few trips this year. Besides the usual cons (Balticon, DragonCon) there will be a few new things (TravellerCon and taking the younger daughter to BroneyCon). This will also be a Disney trip year in the Halloween time frame, as well as a couple of mini trips in the summer.
Well, that's enough for now. I will do my best to make more regular entries going forward.
I've now gotten to the point where I have to get my final promotion as an enlisted person or face High Year of Tenure, or HYT. HYT is the "up or out" of the military world. I will hit my bump point in a little under three years. So now I continue to pimp myself out to possible jobs while slogging through the drill weekends. This unit hasn't been what I hoped it would be. Part of that is probably shaking off the lack of enthusiasm for a lot of things and part has been the unit has had a lot of growing pains with still more to come. Still, I think I have a few dances left before I leave the floor.
Now, I read the ongoing struggles where my friends flood themselves with poisons, or bombard themselves with radiation, in order to stop their self-produced biological weapons. It's a much different world than I expected...
Somewhere around two years ago I, in the classic words of Gary Larson, "went to the vet to get tutored." Paid some co pays, had the most uncomfortable 20 minutes of my life, took a couple of tests and I was the proud owner of some non-reproductive equipment.
More important than what did happen, I feel, is what didn't:
- Neither my insurance company nor my employers batted an eyelash over me possibly cheating God out of babies even though I might still have sex.
- The place I went to was a medical office, with real doctors. I didn't have to worry about being sent to a "Urology Crisis Center" where white coated religious fanatics tried to talk me out of it by making up stories of all the physical and mental trauma I would face going through with it.
- No one called me a horndog for wanting birth control. I didn't have to watch pictures of my happy wriggling sperm before they did the deed.
- The biggest problem with the facility I went to for the procedure was finding a parking space. I didn't have to worry it would be closed due to state or local government action.
- I did not have to worry my walk to the front door would subject me to harassment from people who would yell insults and false platitudes, and who would block my path, shower me with blood or stuffie sperm or even place an IED in the clinic if they had the chance.
- My doctor might be delayed with other work, but I wouldn't have to worry about him and his escort being shotgunned in the parking lot.
So, do both genders have problems? Yes. Are they anywhere the same sizes? Oh, Hell no.
In the meantime, I've been pondering new plates for the car. Since I'm not in the Guard anymore, I really should get the current plates (http://www.mva.maryland.gov/Vehicle-Serv
Cruising the website (http://www.mva.maryland.gov/Vehicle-Ser
Maybe I should just junk it all and get a vanity plate of some sort - no idea what to put on it, though.
No clue, really. Fortunately I'm not in a hurry...
(Always interested in hearing costume suggestions, though I cannot guarantee I'll follow them)
Path. Thy breathing is about to cease. Thy guru hath set thee face to
face before with the Clear Light; and now thou art about to experience
in its Reality in the Bardo state, wherein all things are like the
void and cloudless sky, and the naked, spotless intellect is like unto
a transparent vacuum without circumference or centre. At this moment,
know thou thyself, and abide in that state."
My big frustration was that the powers that be made every effort to get all the aircrew on the aircraft redeployment flights so they were touring the Med while we were still living in the AOR. While there were some mission related purposes for this, mainly in allowing all of them to get some flight time and events to maintain currency, I don't think it was the best way to do it. Since the opportunity to redeploy on our own aircraft is pretty rare nowadays because the aircraft is small and short legged, I would have liked them to offer the opportunity to some of the junior non-flyers who may not get another chance. I treasure the times I was able to deploy/redeploy "on the iron" as it is really a chance to see the world and bond with your messmates, esp. compared to a 24 hour endurance ride in a metal tube filled with weary soldiers, pensioners and the occasional screaming child. Alas, I'm still not king.
One side effect of all the hours on tent watch was I missed an opportunity to visit the bomb yard. One of the people with us was doing ordinance work and was able to get tours of the facility. While I would have liked to see it, I'm not sure what I would have done when faced with the opportunity to participate in that peculiar tradition of signing the bomb. Often people will come back with pictures of themselves having chalked some slogan onto the side of a Mk 82 - which seems a little childish and barbaric at the same time. I'm not sure what I would have done - "fly well, strike true, and spare the innocent" would be wordy, even in Latin. Not a worry now, I expect.
One ceremony I did participate in was the "dignified transfer of remains," when the body of an ISAF member is loaded onto an aircraft for the last flight home. These happen at random times ("But of that day and hour no one knows...") but usually with a call for participants to provide an honor guard. I resolved to do at least one of these before I went, but only had the opportunity to get to one when we were finished flying. While I glad I went, I'm also glad I don't have to do another.
The ceremony itself is a strange mix of personal and impersonal. There are a lot of people there, in two mass formations of hundreds of people on either side of the path from the vehicles to the aircraft. After the arrival of the high ranking officers and representatives of the various countries, the remains arrive. They're brought to one end of the formation, then the coffins (more like 8 foot long aluminum ice chests to preserve the remains until they reach Dover) are carried between the formations to the aircraft awaiting at the other end. There's also a narrator issuing the orders over the loudspeaker, as well as reading a short biography.
After that was the usual alarums and excursions of getting people home. You're given a large checklist and have to balance off the fact that you don't want to turn in useful stuff before you have to, but also don't want to wait until the last minute - lest the paperwork keep you from the aircraft. We had to wait until pretty much the last aircraft that would get us to our rotator - the flight that would take us back to BWI. This meant being at the transit point only long enough for some interwebs, a shower, some food, then off to another set of hoops to jump before the long ride home. Even with the near miss with Customs (first delayed by a power outage, then I had to dump the bug goop, but the lava lamp survived inspection) and the ribbing for having too many bags, it was pretty painless.
BWI brought me back to the usual welcome home greeters, plus a small group of friends willing to come out and welcome me back, which was great. Going home to a house plunged into the third world because of a power outage was not - but that is another story...
I still haven't gleaned any insights that would tie the whole thing together - I'm not sure I ever will. I've deployed to a war, one where the dangers were real for me, if slight. Whatever else I might be, I'm still mostly an office worker with an odd dress code. I'm still uneasy with being "the face of war" to whole sections of people that might never have a veteran of any stripe in their social circles. Like many veterans, I tend to discount my experience because I can look at all of those who had it worse and have an inkling of just how worse it can get. I'm glad I did my bit and we'll see if I have to do it again.
Plans are to get started about 10AM and go into the early afternoon, with lunch somewhere in there.
I'm walking in this year's DC MS Walk - 30 miles (+) for a cure. Please go to here (http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/T
Thanks for all of your help!
We'll be getting started around Noon and taking things from the house to Laurel. If that goes quickly, we'll also try to get things out of one of the storage places as I hope to have all my stuff under one roof so I can decide what to keep or lose.
The usual sacrifices of pizza and drinks will be made available.
"The Kipling Blazer (No. 2594). We made this vintage British Military Blazer for you in Portugal. In a durable but comfortable, cotton canvas. Metal, silver oxide buttons. Rounded and pleated button-through flap pockets. Button-down shoulder epaulette. Center back vent. Pieced and folded cuffs." Price: $329
Then I go to this:
"A new reproduction of the KD SD tunic worn by British and Commonwealth officers from 1900 to the 1960's. Made in 100% cotton and fitted with brass General Service buttons. It has brass belt hooks for wear with Sam Browne belt, and also includes a removable optional cloth belt." Price: $68
I know too much.