Proof of life

•January 3, 2010 • Comments Off on Proof of life

I live, I am well, and I have had an excellent holiday season. It is extended by another few weeks – David comes home soon for mid-tour leave.

I can’t wait.

Well, at least not patiently.

Thus, I direct you to my Twitter feed and Flickr account for the details. I’m finding it far easier to do short-form writing and posting these busy days.

Holidays were spent first in Ojai/Ventura/Santa Barbara, then the Bay for New Year’s Eve. I highly recommend spending the Eve in San Francisco with friends, though buying club tickets ahead of time is something I will do differently next year. See Flickr for partial, unculled proof.

Long silence

•November 10, 2009 • Comments Off on Long silence

I am coming to an understanding of this deployment cycle … there are long periods in which nothing happens and thus I have nothing to write about. There are also periods when interesting events occur and I am prevented from writing about them either by policy or by emotion.

That said, though, rest easy. I am fine, we are fine, and life goes on. The holidays are rushing up to meet me and I am looking forward to them – family in Ojai, friends in the Bay. When I return for the new year I plan to be very excited for a week and then traveling in a haze of happy reuniting for about two.

The cats say hi too.

On account o' it bein' me half-birthday…

•September 19, 2009 • Comments Off on On account o' it bein' me half-birthday…

and, o’ course, Talk Like A Pirate Day…

we be aimin’ to pillage Chateau Ste. Michelle for the tourin’ o’ their lands and the drinkin’ o’ their grog.


Bulleted Travelings

•August 27, 2009 • Comments Off on Bulleted Travelings

Where to start, where to start…

I suppose I’ll just do some bullets and explain as needed… or perhaps I’ll simply let you ask for clarification in comments and other emails.

* David forgot his passport.
* We missed our shuttle bus, so we parked near the airport and left the car there for two weeks.
* At first we didn’t get upgraded, so we hung out in the lounge.
* Got upgraded to upper business class, with the sleeper cubicles, nice blankets, free food and drink and copious entertainment.
* Saw The John Snow pub, and the pump, on our first night there.
* Rode the London Eye and toured Westminster Abbey.
* Went to Bristol and saw the Banksy takeover of the City Museum there.
* Visited Covent Garden and its lovely shops.
* Rode horses in Hyde Park.
* Saw Godot banner outside the theater in Haymarket.
* David waited in line for a few hours to get us tickets…
* Wandered the Greek and Egyptian exhibits at the British Museum, which was delightfully near our hotel.
* Saw Waiting for Godot with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. For ten pounds each, we were just a couple of feet from the stage, at eye level with it, and close enough to be spat upon. And we now have a signed poster. Magical.
* Tower of London.
* ER Visit. Then more wanderings along the river, a food faire, and more Tower.
* Packing and Covent Garden again.
* Flight to DC.
* Lunch with Bob
* The Buying of Beers. Many beers.
* Dinner with Elizabeth, Maria, and Dawson.
* Taxis, the Mall, and other shenanigans with the family.
* Katie and the Congress Members Only elevator.
* Aunt Cindy arguing with Elton Gallegly.
* The F-22 filibuster.
* The incessant photos. Also “don’t worry, everyone can tell anyway”…
* The car chase.
* 4-H people at Union Station.
* Cigars on the roof.
* Train to New York
* Burritos
* Subway riding to Ground Zero
* Meeting Heather at Times Square
* Outstanding dinner at the Greek place for Restaurant Week
* Early departure for West Point
* Confusing directions
* West Point Tour – imagination and stories collide
* Lunch on our own
* BBQ with family
* Harry Potter
* Reunion – we took Joby
* Squirt guns
* 4-square
* Web access
* Beer!
* Frisbee
* Pool
* More beer, and pizza
* Brunch with Eliz’s brother’s family
* Puddlejumper with Buffy
* Long flight with the young private
* Home.
* Unpacking
* Repacking
* Dinners
* Departures

Goodbye for now, love. See you in half a year, or two seasons, however we choose to measure the time. Help me make it go quickly?

Googley Voice – 9.5/10

•August 9, 2009 • Comments Off on Googley Voice – 9.5/10

It’s pretty cool, actually.

Google Voice Info

For me, remaining Stateside, it’s been a breeze to set up and configure, using both my browser and my personal cell phone.

Some of the perks:

  • Permanent forwarding phone number for as long as Google Voice exists… (chances are good that you’re reading this via Facebook and can get my number there, or I’ve already given it to you)
  • Can ring multiple phones according to a schedule I set. This is important later.
  • Free SMS/texting from Google Voice to any phone, can receive and store free texts. So, now that David has an account, I can text him with my thoughts of the day and get a response whenever he logs in.
  • Voicemail transcripts texted and/or emailed to your phone (depending on your settings)… though if you’re not careful, saying “Google Voice Account” can become “Good Boy Scout” in the transcript! 😀 Voicemails can also be forwarded or downloaded. Transcripts also have a “thumbs up/down” rating system, which helps train the transcribing program.
  • Free US calling, cheap international calling.
  • Routing phone calls based on who’s calling and which phone you want to have ring… so I don’t *HAVE* to be notified when an ex or the dentist calls!
  • Screen or block calls based on caller, and change the voicemail greeting for whomever it is… so David gets his own greeting if he ever bothers to use this number. I’m still recording others for my friends and family.
  • Conference calling, recording, and phone switching… so if one phone’s battery starts to die I can switch to another without losing the call.
  • All the additional perks of Google contacts, email, etc… linked to your Voice account. Think calendars and conversations. Win.

All in all, it’s been a fantastic service and I need to make more people use my Google phone number rather than my established personal phone number.

I had to wait a month or two on the waiting list to get my account, but they’re moving rapidly through the list and giving priority to anyone with a .mil email address. Which brings me to my next point…

Google Voice for Service Members

As I said above, gVoice requires a physical phone to forward calls. Here’s the catch for my poor deployed David … he disabled his T-Mobile account for the duration, although he did get reception in Kuwait before his account expired. So he’s without a physical phone/number right now, and gVoice won’t let you complete the setup process until you’ve entered a phone number that it can call to confirm the account. >.<

I was able to game the system by using my Crackberry to activate his account. I then tried to remove the Crackberry from his account but was told that I had to have at least one actual phone on the account – and to add an alternate phone requires the call-to-confirm step. So I can't untether the Crackberry from the account until gVoice lifts that requirement or David adds another phone-that-works.

Fortunately, I can tell gVoice never to call the Crackberry on "weekends or weekdays" and can place a "do not disturb" on that phone from David's account. So it's not a dealbreaker, but I imagine that several military users are facing greater challenges with the requirement. If Google responds to my tech support email on this topic, I'll post any helpful info they give me here.

In short, I give it a 9.5/10 for my personal account (the transcripts and mobile interface need some work, and I'm sure they can find a way to work around the smartphone app blocks through a better mobile page) and an 8/10 for David's account, 'cause of the deployed military setup issues.

Go forth, enjoy. And let me know your account number, if you get one.

Trying to rekindle the habit

•August 1, 2009 • Comments Off on Trying to rekindle the habit

Here I am, a week or so later, and I am disappointed with my writing resolution.

It’s hard to write this, right now at least. Writing about the deployment makes it real. I know I’m not the only one sharing this sentiment. It’s hard to be lonely, but I feel like I’m doing a good enough job of keeping busy that I have run out of time to write. I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing.

People often remark that I must be a very resilient person, to have survived the events of the last few months without breaking. I think I have simply been too busy to fully experience all of it. Again, I’m not sure it’s a bad thing.

What’s happened? Well, starting in February…

  • I moved to Washington with David.
  • Three weeks after I moved, David left on a long field exercise. Meanwhile, Mike (the previous roomie) moved out and deployed, I had a long weekend in Davis with my beloved Alumni Chorus, moved my crap out of storage and into the apartment, collected the cats from southern California, and saw Grandma for the last time, all in two weeks…
  • David came back from the field exercise in time for St. Patrick’s Day, just the day after I’d returned with the cats, then I left for several days’ work travel in Oregon. We had about two weeks of normal time before he left again, this time for over a month of training with the whole Brigade — meaning that most of my new friends and/or their spouses were gone too.
  • Shortly after David left, I found out that a good 4-H friend of mine had died. See the Ross post for more information, but there hasn’t been any more closure since then. And yet…
  • Fortunately (depending on your perspective) I also had another ten days of Oregon travel and a hell of a lot of work. I’m not entirely sure how I filled my time during this month, but I know I didn’t have much of it to spare. David came back early, though, in mid-May…
  • And a couple of days after his return, he had more surgery on his wrist. So we didn’t exactly have normal time for that, either. My dad visited in the last few days of May and that’s when my summer imploded.

Grandma passed away the afternoon after my dad left. I had spoken to her over her hospital phone the day he did leave, and I had dismissed the finality in her voice as illness. While I did ignore that tone, the things we shared in that few-minute conversation were pithy and a worthy way to say goodbye. It’s not that I don’t miss her or wish I’d had more time – of course I do! – but the things we said to one another have been enough to comfort me. Again, I don’t feel I’ve had much time to experience the full grief. I am sure I will come the holidays.

I had talked to my dad around noon that day, after he’d arrived in Santa Barbara, and we knew things were not looking good. I booked a last-minute flight for that afternoon and my cell phone rang as I was going through security. It was my dad, calling to tell me that she’d stopped breathing.

The next few days I spent at home are somewhat blurry – there was so much to discuss and do and share that I don’t have a clear memory of what I felt.

Two days after I returned, I had my wisdom teeth out. Oh, and that’s the day the ACCESS 4-H project director and project manager, both people I’d consider good friends, were no longer employed by Council. I’m selfishly glad I had the haze of pain and painkillers and wicked nausea to distract me – I found out via email blast as I returned from the surgery, so at first it all seemed like a dream.

I think we had two full weekends between my wisdom teeth removal and the beginning of our ridiculous vacation itinerary, and both were busy. In the last month we have spent a vast amount of time in Seattle and at Army parties, in the Bay area with family and good friends, even a week in London and another touring the east coast… Those three weeks alone deserve their own post.

Two days after we returned from the last leg of the traveling, David departed for a year. I’m still finding things that need to make their way overseas to him. I spent a day broken, though I still did my daily work. I spent a few more days fighting back tears whenever someone asked me how I was doing. I found things to do instead of cry.

But I haven’t given myself the leisure to examine the way I’ve felt until now. And see! I’ve filled it with recaps and observations. Of course, I doubt I’ll ever share the depths of what I do feel, but I felt an obligation to announce that Yes! I yet live! This is what I felt like writing. So yes, perhaps I’ve made a good start.

This week has been a shock of quietude, at least during the day. I am still swamped with work; we have looming deadlines and a shortage of hours to complete them. And with the rest of the Brigade’s soldiers yet to deploy, there have been plenty of excuses to get myself out of the apartment and savor what time I have remaining with the friends who haven’t yet left.

I suppose I’m finding out how good I am at distracting myself. Give me another couple of weeks, for them to leave, for me to finish my annual pilgrimage to the land of fluffy critters and blue ribbons, for the familiar structure of weekend parties and summer business to taper off… and I think perhaps I will have time to fully feel all that has happened.

Oops. No. I have a choir audition tomorrow. Perhaps instead of writing it all down, I’ll find myself singing it out. That’s always worked well for me…


•July 22, 2009 • Comments Off on D-Day.

And they’re off.

Mine anyway.

More of my friends will follow him soon. Now to fill the hours, the evenings, the weeks, and the months.

I don’t know how I would manage this without friends and family. Thanks.


•June 26, 2009 • Comments Off on Milblogging

Some of you may know (if you bother to check this blog, still) that there’s a thriving blogging community for servicemembers and their families. “Milblogs” have become not only the modern-day equivalent of the letters written in wars prior, but a means of collaborating and even organizing a vibrant veterans group online.

This article exhorts those who no longer update their blogs to keep them archived and available online. A bit of a wakeup call for me, as I’ve been terribly remiss in my updates, but also a reminder that I have my side of a deployment coming up. My first, David’s second, and perhaps the right challenge for me to keep writing here. After all, I’ve a decent-sized list* of milblogs that I check regularly – it seems only fair that I in turn update mine.

So, while things are going well, I’m likely to be quiet on this here keyboard. My greatest impetus to writing is strong emotion, and the absence of loved ones triggers a fair amount of introspection. Hence, the writing will probably resume with more regularity in the coming months. I’m both apprehensive and excited to see what insights I gain from this one.

Go Web 2.0 – keep everyone connected, on a variety of platforms, and pay me to make it happen. Woot.

*List (a mix of personal blogs, group blogs, and newsblogs that I check pretty regularly each week)

  • Army of Dude – Alex’s account of his experiences in Iraq… and what has happened afterward.
  • FOB Tacoma – the local newspaper’s blog tracking all things Fort Lewis.
  • SpouseBUZZ – for military spouses, and I argue, the significant others as well.
  • Stryker Brigade News – news organized by brigade, including both home front and overseas information.
  • VetVoice – politics aside, it’s a pretty interesting set of public and personal blog posts by a variety of veterans. I often get some good links from these folks.
  • Army Live – yes, even the Army itself has started keeping a blog. Go Army.

Lighter by 4 teeth, and burdened with grim knowledge

•June 10, 2009 • Comments Off on Lighter by 4 teeth, and burdened with grim knowledge

First, for those who have ever lost luggage, read this.

Secondly, I am, as of this morning, now lacking in wisdom teeth and discovering the joys of bloody mouth, painkillers, mild nausea, and general drugged-up haziness.

Thirdly, I have affectionate and cuddly cats. They and David take care of me quite well.


•May 5, 2009 • Comments Off on Floribundance.

It appears that I am loved.

In the last few hours I have received red roses, a lovely fern, and instant approval for a Chase credit card.

Wait, scratch that last one. Turns out Chase sends it to all the girls. Psh.

Still… the other two items make me feel very warm and fuzzy.