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 The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo
 
I found this to be an occasionally annoying, but ultimately useful book. M. Kondo has a chatty style of writing, but in a lot of ways it's that sort of indirect approach that helps you get the lessons of the book.
 
I learned a lot from this book, and used it to wok on my own living situation. While it might be a case the teacher appearing when the student is ready, most people could use a reminder of their relationship to their stuff. Many of the big features are covered here: https://www.onekingslane.com/live-love-home/marie-kondo-book-declutter/, but there are a few more that I would add.
 
First and foremost, it's OK to let go of things. Often I found myself keeping things that I meant to get around to, but never did. In a life of limited time, money and energy, being able to walk away from the hobby or book or stuff you would most likely never get around to is an amazing feeling. Sending things on also gives them the chance to improve other people's lives. Clearing out the closet allowed me to have better access to the things I do want, sometimes even to the point of not remembering I had them before now.

Also, clearing things out allows you to get other things that are more what you are now. We think of ourselves as unchanging, with interests that are fixed, but we're not. There's nothing wrong with taking stock of who we are, or want to be now, and making choices based on that.
 
It is vital to go into the process with an open mind. The style is prone to mockery, especially the personification. But, like using chi as a way to explain good movement, it is a useful viewpoint. A bigger hurdle is hubris of the "I love my attitude problem" sort. Many will declaim that their hoarding is too much even for M. Kondo to fix, or that there are too many things they "have to have." It's important to go into it with an open mind, and with eyes set on some of the benefits. None of us live in a house of limitless room, and most of us don't need Gatsby's closet to get by. There has been once or twice when I wanted something that was gone, but that's more than compensated by a home that has room for life.

Hello Old Friend...

 Well, it has been a while. I've been pretty bad at updates for both good and bad reasons. Life has been busy and a bit tiring, but it has also been really good. Problem is, "Man invented language to satisfy his deep inner need to complain,"and lj is no exception.

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.

O, nobly-born, P by name...

 ...the time has come for you to seek the path. Your soul has set you face to face with the clear light and you are now about to experience it in all its reality, wherein all things are like the void and cloudless sky, and the naked, spotless intellect is like a transparent vacuum, without circumference or center. P, in this moment, know yourself, and abide in that state.
 I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God. 5 U.S.C. §3331
 
 
"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God." (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
Today, with almost no fanfare (I really didn't want to make a scene or have it be a roll call spectacle, so it was a quick swearing in in the only office with a flag we could find) I reenlisted for another six years, or possibly two years and nine months.

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.

WMD Thunderdome

In my 20+ years of service, I've spent a lot of time on Nuclear, Biological and Chemical weapons - NBC then, now known as WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction).  We learned to defend against it, the symptoms of it, how to stick ourselves with autoinjectors if all else failed.  The names still roll through my head:  phosgene, VX, alpha particles, anthrax.  I can reach behind me for the book seaglassblue gave me from Brassey's Publishing on NBC and page through pages of descriptions and pictures.  I always though that I'd never have to deal with it, not really.

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...

Separate? Yes - Equal? No.

A recent posting in another social media site got the response that both genders "face problems of equal severity."  I believe this to be a case of false equivalence and offer the following "think piece" in evidence.  While any single story cannot be authoritative, I believe the examples I give will be enough to prove my point.

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.
 Why "Hawkeswood Station?"  I guess I was trying to capture the feel of the new/not so new place.  While I was moving in, the girls had been living there for years.  This led to a moving dance where the girls' things from the old place went to the new apt with mom while my stuff went to my new place.  Also, I'm still getting rid of things, so there is still a lot of boxes in various rooms and halls.  I figure the closest approximation is on the ISS when a new mission commander comes aboard while the same space cadets/mission specialists from the prior expedition remain.  The station is crowded with extra stuff, similar to the unloading of a Progress resupply freighter.  Now we're working to get the equipment stowed and the excess back out of the station.
 
Hawkeswood Station also gives the feel of a place without a surfeit of storage.  Being here with the girls will be an experiment in de-crufting on a massive level.  While I will never reach the point of being able to live out of an RV, I think I can end up with a lot less stuff.  Bringing the girls along for the ride will be a tougher matter.  I'll do my best to lead by example and work on clearing out the stuff they can't wear and expand from there.
 
The other thing to get used to here is the environmental controls.  This place is pretty old school: window AC units and a few electric baseboard heaters scattered around the place.  Since I am in the GHI section, which is a co-op, the rules of changing the place are convoluted.  I'm still pondering what might be the best way to heat the place from both a cost and efficiency PoV.  So I'll be curious to see how the winter turns out.
 
Another parallel to the ISS - the difficulties for modifications at GHI are even more so for any expansions, which I would really like to do.  Adding a toilet/shower to the first floor is almost mandatory (someday one or both of the girls might develop obsessive hygiene) and is pretty easy from an co-op approval standpoint.  Expanding the first floor for a bedroom (something I'd like/want/need if this place became a home for the latter years) is much tougher.
 
However, that's a bit down the road.  Now is trying to cull the herd of stuff and working to avoid too much in the attic - or anywhere else for that matter.
 

Tags:

New Plates?

I'll have a real post soon, I promise.

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-Services/Specialty-Plates/displayPlateDetails.asp?PLATEID=345) replaced.  But with what?

Cruising the website (http://www.mva.maryland.gov/Vehicle-Services/Specialty-Plates/) I'm eligible for a few of the mid to low level military medals (Army Commedation, Afghanistan, National Defense and the two GWOT Medals) as well as the USAF and USAF Veteran.

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...

Dragon*Con 2013 After Action Report

 Dragon*Con 2013 was a mixed bag for me.  I suppose this is not a surprise.  I had more baggage this summer than the car full of cosplay gear I loaded up for Atlanta, between the finishing of the move, the financial juggling that moving in and financing the new place, and the hoops of joining a new Reserve service and unit put me in need of a vacation, but not in the best place to excel while there.
In the interest of trying to create the best terrain for successful cons, I'm going to lay out what worked, what didn't and what themes I need to ponder for D*C 2014.
The Good:
The trip down and back - I love the ability to see a bit of the country and travel without hard deadlines.  Warping straight from work to con is a bit jarring.
This year I was able to visit a couple of battlefields (Kings Mountain and Alamance Battleground) and get in a good "stretch of the leg."  I hopefully will get a chance to do this in the winter for Arisia and well as next year's D*C.  In the future I'll try to be better about timing.  I could have used more time at King's Mountain - I got there an hour before close - and Alamance could have been better timed to break up the travel day, but both were enjoyable and very useful from both an Ingress (a smartphone/GPS based game which let me exercise my mind) and from a physical break standpoint.
Taking extra days - This year I continued my schedule of traveling (I keep wanting to spell that with 2 "l"s) down on Wed and back on Tue.  This allows me to have a low impact day before the con to hang out or take care of last minute tasks before D*C heats up.  Driving after work on Tue means I'm away from the house, which lowers stress because I've "crossed the Rubicon," packing-wise, and that the Wed drive has more time for breaks.  Driving home on Tue means I can hang out on Monday night with a few people, as well as avoid the Monday checking out craziness.  Unfortunately, being free this particular Thursday also left me open for being the Fire Brigade to another person's crisis (see below).
Giving blood - this was the first time I gave blood since before Afghanistan.  I gave to the local donation center that works with D*C.  I was a little worried because I was giving on Monday when I was pretty well run down, but it all came out OK.  I hope to get back in the ARC swing in the spring (since I gave double red using the machine, I won't be eligible until XMas so I will probably give next at Arisia to one of the Boston blood banks associated with the con).
Parade - I think of the parade, along with the Dr Horrible shadowcast, as my major "work" for the con.  This year I spent most of the parade making sure that we stepped off in the right order, that people got their water and parade tags and that transfers on and off the parade float were as safe as we could make them.  Our group seems to get bigger every year, which makes organization a problem.  The new parade route and our early post in the parade made this an especially challenging endeavor.  I may invest in a bigger megaphone next year.
Garrett Wang - We failed in our attempt to beat the most people assembled in Star Trek costume this year.  What could have been an ugly bureaucratic mess (they wanted us to sit in the chairs for enumeration purposes for an hour plus, with nothing but Voyager (with bad sound) for company) was made quite quite the enjoyable experience by track leader Garrett Wang's (yes, of Voyager fame - he's not just a fan, he's part of the franchise!) off the cuff reminisces and Q&A from the crowd.  He also does a kick butt George Takei impression.  I later got to thank him and he said that they will probably hold off a year or two to try for the record.  There's a lot of moving parts to getting an attempt to work - I think they may have been enough Trekkies at the con in costume at the time to push us over the top, but they didn't know when and where or even that we were doing this.
Bad:
Connectivity hell - I have no idea why it was so difficult to get wifi or cel service, esp. after the business types went home for the weekend.  This not only made staying in touch with people at the con difficult, but led to a feeling of dislocation in general, which didn't help things.
Smokers and e-cigs - The hassle that is the smokescreens around every entry to every building is the cross eyed bear of many conventions, but I think D*C just has more of it.  Adding to that is the new wrinkle that is e-cigs.  Since it's not "smoking," the addicts of this latest vice seem to have no compunction to indulging anywhere, indoors or out.  While there isn't the nasty smell that gets onto everything, they have no real idea what they're putting into their lungs or my air.  I suspect they will have to start sending these folks outside too.
Missing connections - Dragon*Con is big...REALLY big!  There were a few people that I would have liked to spend time with that I never saw. Those that I did have commo with, schedules never really lined up the right way.  Unfortunately, there's little to do to this problem, other than try to reach out to as many friends as possible so some connections work out.
Parade float - This was the bane of my existence this year.  The float was a great idea that suffered for a number of organizational and project management issues.  The float was built in FL and by the Thursday before the con parked outside the city where it had been worked on that week.  I was asked to come help "for a few hours to finish up the work."  Unfortunately, that was a rather optimistic opinion of the state of the float.  Since the float had to be ready on Saturday morning (Sylvester McCoy - the seventh Doctor - was riding on it) the three of us there worked all day and the other two worked more Sat morning to get the float to the parade in a safe and useable status.  We, or rather they (Grey and Counce literally did the heavy lifting on Saturday while I herded the scarved and fez topped cats of the marching group) got the float operational and successfully through the parade.  Unfortunately, the success came at the cost of most of the spoons I had for the con.  While it is not the root of all my con negativities, I think getting behind the power curve before things started made the reverses worse.
"Missed opportunities" - This is a very subjective measure but since we're dealing with a very subjective standard (my feelings) it seems legit to include.  Near the end, it seemed I got to be a witness to other people's successes but didn't have many successes on my own.  While I was happy that other people's plans were working out, the fact that mine didn't made me a bit grumpy.  It hasn't helped that I've run into people congratulating me on their stuff:  "Hey!  Joss Whedon tweeted about you!  Congrats!"  "Tweeted about _them_ actually - I didn't have anything to do with that."  Whee.
Dislocation - I guess this is what it all comes back to.  For the last few months I've been head down in the maneuvers that was negotiating the "passage of forces" that changed the house from B to me.  While I finished moving stuff to the house the weekend before, the house still looks like Warehouse 13.  So while I didn't leave with major deadlines looming, I was nowhere near the footloose and fancy free type that can really enjoy the holiday.
I guess while I'm at the convention my major problem is that I never seem comfortable in whatever group I'm in.  I'm close to all of the people I share a room with at the con, but I also feel a little cramped spending a lot of time with them,  Part is just the room - none of the hotels are good for 4 people and all their cosplay - but part is just wanderlust/indecisiveness.  D*C can be a vast smorgasbord and I sometimes feel like I'm wandering about with an empty plate because there's nothing I like.
The nut I haven't cracked yet is figuring out how to make enough plans and linkages pre-con so I have other groups to see and hang with and events I really want to do.  it would also help if I had any flashes of costuming brilliance.  My last inspiration was cosplaying the Brig and convincing the group to do UNIT at the parade.  The sad thing is most of us are so busy running the parade group we don't do a lot of fun at the parade and afterwards we're unlikely to want to put the sodden uniforms back on.  Looking for that "killer app" for a fifty-ish, non-washboarded, face for radio and voice for newspapers cosplayer.
The Future (some of it, anyway):

With that, I've thought about costumes for next year.  With the home front mostly nailed down, I should have the chance do work on some more ambitious projects for next year.  I'm aiming for stuff I'll like and if they catch the public's imagination, great but if not I'll still like the costume. Admittedly, I've said this before but we'll see:

(Always interested in hearing costume suggestions, though I cannot guarantee I'll follow them)
More Brig - Finally going to put together the #2 Dress uniform for the Brig. This way I'll have the jumper version for the parade and also have a Brig outfit that hasn't been loaded with sweat for D*C walkabout.
Colonel West from Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country - I've been debating a ST Movie outfit for the longest time. I think doing Colonel West cosplay would be a good fit for my body/facial hair type. Also, it would give me another outfit I could wear with a kilt...
Vacc Suit from Traveller - When I was in SoCal, I picked up an 5.11 TDU Tactical Jumpsuit and have been wanting to do something Traveller-esqe with it. With a full-face motorcycle helmet, backpack/powerpack, laser carbine and maybe some hard armor work, this might be the year...

Housing Update

In the house - barely.  Stuff still in lots of places, mostly first floor.  Progress made on bedroom - now have wardrobe to take some of the excess hangerage but still need to find heavy duty closet rail solution.
 
Other things on the "do it sooner" list:  getting elliptical machine back in operation, more plywood for the attic to make sorting and storage easier, and make the kitchen more user friendly.
 
I will also need to ponder the winter.  Standard GHI (Greenbelt Homes, Inc., the co-op I live in) homes are miserable from an HVAC standpoint and, well, Winter is Coming.  I will need to ponder how to handle the oncoming cold with the houses baseboard electric heaters and whatever else I might want to use.  The goal is to keep the costs down without bursting the pipes or otherwise turning it into a miserable place to winter over.
 
Still, being able to walk to places for the essentials (grocery, library, local watering hole) and a few luxuries (farmers' market, acceptable pizza and cheese steaks) is something I've been missing for a while.  On a larger scope, the location is good and getting to work (from, not so much) or to Glen Echo or other events is much easier.  There will be a learning curve to living in the new place, but at least I'm moving along it now.

Tags:

 OK, my friend will be over at 1PM, so if anyone has a hankering to help move stuff then would be a good time to stop by.  Work for everyone - no heavy lifting required.
Since my Reserve recruiter couldn't get his act together, I won't be going to drill this weekend.
 
So, does anyone have a van/pickup available to move a few bulky items.  Also, anyone willing to lend a hand Sat/Sun/Mon let me know.  Today was a total trip through the wringer so I'm only getting to this too late at night.  Not sure of the plan right now - hopefully I'll have a better idea based on responses.  If nothing else I'll prob do cleaning and packing prep Sat and move items either Sun or Mon, though that's just a guess.
 
Thanks!
 For those furloughed, underemployed, or just looking for something different to do on a Monday morning - I am moving stuff from the soon to be old place in Laurel to the soon to be new place in Greenbelt.  I'm thinking of sometime around 10AM to late lunchtime and then off for pizza.  Mostly bins and boxes - the only bulky things are the mattress and the dining room table.
 
Let me know if you're able and willing to help.
 We are down to a week before the Clockwork Werewulf II, our steampunk ball (http://midlantic-steam.livejournal.com/51358.html) so here is an update:
 
First, we have extended the deadline for buying tickets at the $30 price to this Thursday, the 21st!  Paypal to: ddelaney103@gmail.com
 
Tickets at the door are $35 (cash only), as available.
 
Schedule:
 
The doors will open at 7 and there will be a short lesson in vintage dancing (polkas and waltzes) at 7:30.
 
At 8 the dancing will start with a Grand March and follow with dancing on and off until 11.
 
There will be light refreshments and punch.
 
There will also be a photography booth where you can have "prom photos" of your steamy finery for a fee.
 
Hopefully there will one or two surprises (of the pleasant variety - most events can't avoid the other type and I suspect we'll have our share as well).
 
More details as we have them - see you in a week!
 
Find us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/events/509057735780520/
"O, nobly-born N. by name, the time hath now come for thee to seek the
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."
 
A Clockwork Werewulf II:
(Aetheric Boogaloo)
 
Being a (not quite annual) Victorian Ball in the Steampunk
Style
 
On the 23rd of February, 2013
from seven o’clock to eleven o’clock in the evening
at
The Parish Hall of St Andrew’s Episcopal Church
4512 College Avenue, College Park, MD
http://www.saeccp.org/
 
a vintage dance ball to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis research
offered by Team Greykell and Friends
 
Tickets available in advance: $30.00 via PayPal to
ddelaney103@gmail.com, until February 18th, 2013
(a handy PayPal button is at http://www.teamgreykell.org )
Please be sure to include your name with your payment, so we may
welcome you at the door.
 
Tickets, at the door: $35.00 cash
 
Donations to the Multiple Sclerosis Society
may be made in cash or check at the door
-or-
directly at http://www.nationalmssociety.org/donate/index.aspx
 
Volunteers welcome: contact steampunk@teamgreykell.org
 
I never really finished talking about the end of my shortened deployment to Afghanistan.  There wasn't much time to tell it as it was happening - there was an annoying mixture of "hurry up and wait" that tended to squeeze out all but the most vital activities and an access to the Internet that was spotty at best.  Nevertheless, I feel that there are a few things that should be recorded even at this late stage of the game.
Since our aircraft had already left for home, we found ourselves in that odd grey area between work and non-work.  We were no longer doing the mission, but the work areas needed to be disassembled and the tents still needed guarding, lest they be picked over for everything from office supplies to flatscreen TVs (by other offices, not random thieves).  Being at work didn't bother me too much.  I had access to tea and the MoraleNet (a network for non-official activities such as Skype and social media) which made the time pass faster than hanging out in the hooch all day.

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.  
While I didn't remember the soldiers' names, I was able to recall enough of the information that I could look them up on icasualties.org with little trouble.  I didn't put the names here because I don't feel my thoughts are worth much to their friends and loved ones so I'd spare them having this entry come up on a web search.  As I suspect is often the case, many of the honor guard are from the fallen's unit, which means the emotions are even higher.  The bodies are carried at a brisk pace, as opposed to the current fondness of slow marching at funerals.  Once they're aboard the aircraft, the people are dismissed to the traffic jam of vans and buses heading back to their little slice of the war.

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.
For those feds off next Monday, I'd like to continue getting my stuff out of storage and into Log Base Laurel.  Also, now that the carpets are installed upstairs, I also want to move the bureaus cluttering up the living room into the bedrooms.

Plans are to get started about 10AM and go into the early afternoon, with lunch somewhere in there.

Thanks!

Greetings from Log Base Laurel!

No, I haven't deployed again - "Logistics Base Laurel" is my name for the rental house I currently occupy.  My landlord (a Markland type) calls it "The Feif," though the transaction is pretty much fee simple - no shirts for me and no service against the Counts of Frederick and Cecil for a month in the summer for him.
 
I call it a logistics base (log base for short) because of my main purpose here, which is best summed up as "move in, get organized, get out."  For years now much of my stuff has been sitting in bins and boxes while I've been hither and yon, sometimes way yon.  Besides the expense of renting a storage facility, there's the hassle of not having access to your stuff.  There are things I almost certainly don't need, but are too far back in the pile to get out without hassle.  There are things that I want that I have no idea where they might be.  Finally, I feel the need to simplify my life down to something easier to maintain.  This can be a real problem when much of your self image is tied up in things:  books, costumes, games - many that, viewed in the clear light of reason, are things from a former me.
 
So, the plan is to clear out the storage, get everything into the house, sort it down to a reasonable amount of stuff while selling/freecycling/giving away the excess.  After that, I can look into longer term housing.
 
In the meantime, this will still be a place to live and I am going to do my best to "settle in" rather than "make do."  I want to have people over and otherwise maintain a social life.  The girls have taken to wargaming pretty well and I hope to continue that trend.  I hope to either take up the mantle of the monthly "craft nights" that were held by the landlord and certainly want a "Federal Winter Holiday" party of some sort.
 
Hopefully, come the spring I'll be settled in items and funding that I can figure out what comes next.

Tags:

I had a prepared speech asking for money, but I dropped all those tiny cue cards - fortunately, I don't need them.

I'm walking in this year's DC MS Walk - 30 miles (+) for a cure.  Please go to here (http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR?pg=team&fr_id=17795&team_id=265594) and pick my name out of the lineup (if you don't know my real name, leave a reply or pick at random - all the donations go to the same cause).  Also, I only need 1500 to walk, so if I made my goal pick another person off the list.

Thanks for all of your help!

Meanwhile, back at the Cape...

"This is CAPCOM - I need a final GO/NO-GO for launch. Offer?"
"Offer is Go!"
"Contract?"
"Go!"
"Inspection?"
"Go, CAPCOM!"
"Appraisal?"
"Go!"
"Title?"
"Title is Go!"
"Move Out?"
"Go!"
"Utility umbilical severance bolts?"
"Armed, armed, armed...and armed, Go!"
"Roger - all stations green.  Set the clock for T-minus sixty three hours, seventeen minutes...Mark!"
"Clock is running!"

Spam Pondering

 Why is it all the lj spam I've been getting lately (one or two a day for the better part of a week) is all showing up on the same old posting?  What makes it spam bait?
Well, since it looks like the house will sell on the 31st, I'm planning to move my stuff out of here and to the rental house in Laurel where I will be staying in the short/mid-term future while I sort things out.

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.
 I was cruising through the website when I saw this:

Kipling Blazer
http://www.jpeterman.com/New-Owners-Manual-No-98/The-Kipling-Blazer
"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: 



http://onlinemilitaria.com/shopexd.asp?id=4446&bc=no
"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.

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dan SHIELD
tacnukesoul
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