Friday, December 2, 2011

Get Back Up on That Horse!

Hats off to Jay Kirk. It was your "...eagerly awaiting your January 2012 post" that has spurred me to grace the halls of blogspot again. Couldn't help but chuckle when I read that. I've fallen into the much-easier "Facebook zone" of pithy one-liners and the occasional posted picture to vent my spleen and/or let friends know what's going on.

So, what has been going on?

Well, since my last post I've relinquished command of the 8th Airlift Squadron and moved my family to my next assignment as a staff officer at HQ US European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. The new job is a big change of pace: Once responsible for over 110 men and women, now I'm responsible for myself and one other civilian co-worker. It's a big, big downshift and has taken some major mental adjustments to deal with the change. To go from something so rewarding and challenging and, at times, frustrating, to a brand new job doing something on which I have no experience. It's been pretty frustrating. Talk of eventual retirement from our US Air Force has moved from the distant, hazy future, to a much closer point in time. That's never happened before. This move has been very challenging. There's only so much unpacking and broken furniture a person can stand. We haven't had it as bad as some, but this move was our 8th in 20 years of military service. Don't know how many more I've got left in me.

I was promoted to Colonel in February of this year and expect to pin it on in March 2012. This was a big career goal for me and I thank God every day for the path He's put me on. The older I get, the more clearly I see His guiding hand in my life. "The steps of the righteous man are ordered by God..."

Went on another cruise this month. My wife and I took our 4 children on an 11-night, 10-day cruise to the Western Med. We checked off many new places we've always wanted to see: Barcelona, Marsailles, Malaga, Madeira, the Canary Islands, and Casablanca/Marakesh, Morocco. What a great trip! We travelled on Costa Cruise lines for the second (and probably last) time. Costa, I'm told, is Italien for "Old Grouchy People." This certainly held true on this cruise. Lots of grouchy, irritable Europeans with out-of-control senses of entitlement, especially about the buffet lines. A casual stroll by the swimming pool post-lunch with the sun shining brightly gave me a great opportunity to give me kids a history lesson about what Jonestown may have looked like after they handed out the koolaid. Don't take their chairs, either!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Has It Been 9 Months?

The Annual "New Year's Day Introspection" entry where I realize it's been 9 months since my last post. My friend Chuck said it best--it is much easier to type out a quick snarky status than to work up a blog post. To get the synapses to fire in sequence for more than 5 minutes at a time is becoming more and more a challenge, I guess

The year that was 2010 was pretty good, all-in-all. My Squadron's moved forward. We had a very successful deployment to Qatar from May to September. I went back for my 20 year Citadel reunion and got to see great friends from High School and my old stomping grounds in Columbia.

The year that will be 2011 holds much promise. I'll find out in February if I made Colonel. That will drive what happens next: Stay here in the Pacific NW another year or off to some other crazy place. I'll relinquish command to my replacement in July. It'll be tough to hand my command over, but the idea of not having to constantly check the Blackberry holds much appeal, I must admit. My oldest boy starts his Senior year of High School. That'll make you feel old, let me tell you. It is exciting listening to him contemplate where he'd like to go to college. He's leaning towards the Naval Academy (my savings account votes for that one), but he's taken a recent interest in Texas A&M (close to our potential retirement locale). My middle son William starts High School this year, entering the 10th grade. The whole world is open to this young man. Benjamin has given up his dream of becoming a Jedi--"No future in it." Clever...clever, though apropos considering it all happened "...a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away." Isabella still wants to be a princess, though she will be 9 going on 16 this year.

So, a good year with hopes of an even better one this year. Happy New Year to all!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What's Goin' On?

I have been sufficiently ridiculed by friends for my serious lack of posting. Back to the salt mine...

I guess I've gotten sucked into that vacuous world known as "Facebook," where you can communicate in little snippets and not really put much thought into what you are writing. Blogging is a little more work, of which I've had plenty of late.

Been busy the past few months getting things in order for our upcoming deployment. It'll be another sunny Summer in Qatar. I went there during the same period of time back in 2006. Let me tell you, there are few places on Earth that have that kind of heat. I swore back then that I would never again complain about the cold. I never missed cold showers so much. I got in my car one day in July and the temperature showed 130 degrees F. Toasty. I'd work at night from time to time and get a chill with the air conditioner running. I got up and checked the temperature--82 degrees. Something is wrong with this picture.

Anyhoo, looking forward to getting into action again. We'll be flying into the different theaters over there. I'm hoping to be able to catch up with Chris Neeley in Afghanistan. Shouldn't be too hard to coordinate a linkup sometime over the Summer.

We've had some interesting times at work of late. Our Operations Group has had a rash of DUIs with my squadron leading the charge. It's been sporty dealing with the aftermath of each and keeping folks focused on the fact that we're fighting a war and that they have a very important job to do. I'm thinking about writing a book about the experience. It's been challenging to say the least.

Looking forward to stopping in for a cup of coffee at Jamestown Coffee Company one day. Couldn't be more excited for Jay and Caryn as they start off on this very exciting new chapter in their lives. Remember us when you're a gazillionaire, Jay. Remember, I'm you're man when you open up your Charleston branch.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions 2010

I guess one could call them resolutions. I prefer the term "goals." Not as much guilt if you don't fulfill them, I suppose. Here are a few of my "goals" for the year 2010

1. Start jogging again, eventually working up to being able to run 10 miles. Not sure the knees can handle this or not, so I reserve the right to adjust fire on this one.
2. Be a little more focus on what's important. The Lord, family, work, in that order. Playstation and watching TV didn't make the top 3 strangely enough. As it should be.
3. Eat less. Nelson Rockefeller once said that the secret to long life was to "push away from the table a little bit hungry." He was a gazillionaire. He has a little bit of credibility, I suppose.
4. Develop a hobby of some sort. I've been tossing this around a bit. What do I enjoy? Gardening, playing Playstation. I've ruled out Playstation...not very productive. I would like to build a greenhouse in the backyard and begin dabbling in gardening. At least you can eat your mistakes.
5. I want to make my own wine this year. Nothing super fancy but a huge step up from my last experiment. I tried to make my own hard cider using Wal-Mart concentrated apple juice and baker's yeast. "Prison wine," I called it. The wife and all who tried it just called it "Nasty." This is a building block goal towards my eventual retirement goal of having a still in the back part of my land. Nothing for sale, mind you; strictly be for gifts and to take the chill out of the bones.
6. Get a dog. This has been a goal for the last 4 years. Believe we're almost there. The wife's resolve is buckling. Just met my in-law's young neighbor who showed us her pet rat. She said it's very sweet and a good pet. Maybe I'll offer that as an alternative to speed along getting the dog.
7. Go camping more. Took the family camping 3 times this past year and enjoyed each time more than the last. My wife has surprised me with her love of the outdoors. Maybe it's the fact that I do all the cooking. I admit that I don't mind. Something about cooking over an open fire and dutch ovens. You could cook a week-old dead possum in a dutch oven and it would taste good. Not that I make a habit of cooking dead possum.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pausing to Give Thanks

In this Thanksgiving Day season, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on the various things I'm thankful for:

1. Hormones and special genetically enhanced feeds that make today's turkeys so plump and juicy. I do remember the days (thankfully long past) of dry turkey. I say, "Juice 'em up!" This year I had the "Alex Rodriguez" turkey of all turkeys.
2. Sugar, especially after it's consumed by a bevy of small children. The energy produced by these toddlers as they bounce of the walls of the house could power a small city.
3. Pumkin pie. This is second only to Cheezits as the world's most perfect food.
4. Sweet tea from the South. Put as much sugar in Northern tea as you want, it still doesn't compare for some reason. Maybe Southern tea is made more with love. That's what I think.
5. Whoever came up with the idea of putting ham and pineapple together. Probably a Hawaiian. Those folks have it good, don't they? Perfect weather. A tropical paradise. Ham and pineapple.
6. Sitting at the big table. I remember having to sit and the little table when I was a kid. Thank God those days are over. Spilt milk. Peas rolling around. Crying. Wait, that happens at the big table, too. Never mind.
7. The Atlantic Ocean. That way all those Portuguese can't just walk over here. (I admit, I borrowed this one from Steve Martin's classic SNL skit, "Things I'm Thankful for").
8. Family. You know, you can pick your friends, not your family. But God has seen fit to bless me with a wonderful family.
9. Great friends. I've truly enjoyed re-connecting with everyone over the past few years. I look forward to staying in touch.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Random October Thoughts

Seems I'm doing this about once a month now. Here's this month's installment...

Arlene's sister with her two twin daughters and mother (with niece) are in town visiting. That makes 11 in the house. Not quite the 18 we had back in June, but it's a respectable showing.

Big Readiness Inspection begins this weekend. We get to deploy to be evaluated on how we go to war. The fact we are actually at war right now doesn't count.

Work is going well. Things have settled down a bit from the hectic days of August. I think folks are still feeling things out with the new boss and the entirely new squadron leadership team.

Kids are doing well. Nathan is playing water polo. My favorite sports t-shirt quote: "Water polo...if it was easy they'd call it football." He's played football and wrestling and says this sport is the toughest and most physically demanding by far. I'll take his word for it. Just watching him play it makes me tired.

Benjamin and William are playing soccer. Isabella is back to doing ballet. All are doing piano. Goodness, kids make things busy.

Sports. Hmmm. Like the Phillies/Yankees in the World Series. Probably the most evenly matched teams who'll provide the best game. Like Florida to go all the way in the BCS championship game. Continue to root against the Patriots and for the Steelers. Hockey...nope.

That's about it for this month.

Friday, September 25, 2009

It's Been a While

I guess like all new things one discovers, their newness and luster diminish. Such has been the case with the blog. As some of my friends have noted, Facebook seems to take the majority of their time. I do find it much easier and quicker to merely check what the latest word is on Facebook rather than trying to think of something witty or insightful to say in a blog. I've managed to type 6 lines here without really saying anything.

August was a trying month for me and my new command. What makes commanding a squadron so great is also what makes it such a challenge--the people. People do great things and accomplish wonderful feats. People also make very poor decisions that impact all those around them. Unfortunately, those are the folks who take up 80% of my time.

Long hours and heaps more stress. I've asked myself a few times what I've gotten myself in to. But then I'm reminded this is a Calling for me--God has set me on this path and I continue to faithfully follow. I certainly couldn't continue without His strength and wisdom He daily imparts.