4.30.2005

We're going to Maui

Woohoo! Laundry is going, the suitcase is being packed (we're travelling REALLY light on this one), the reservations are made, the sunscreen is packed (I don't get a tan...I get a "pink"...).

Four days in Maui...I'm beginning to feel like my life resembles a George Carlin skit - the one where he talks about all the s**t that we (as people) have. You have all of your s**t at your house and then you decide to take a vacation so you pack SOME of s**t in suitcases and fly to your destination.

You get to your hotel and unpack your s**t. Then you get an invite to spend the night at a friend's house at the destination so you pack SOME of the s**t that you brought on vacation into a SMALLER bag...and so on.

That is our life right now. But it's a good life.


I'll be somewhat non-existent for the next week or so. Four days on Maui, then moving in to our house and taking delivery of our HHGs (household goods...our s**t for those of you not familiar with the military's fetish for acronyms), and entertaining McGyver's parents will (hopefully) keep me away from the 'puter for a while.

I do hope to be able to post some wonderful pictures from our Maui trip - namely sunrise at Halekala.

Have a good weekend and a wonderful week!

4.29.2005

"Sorry" isn't good enough

Akbar Sorry About Kuwait Grenade Attack


Sorry isn't good enough in this case.


"I want to apologize for the attack that occurred. I felt that my life was in jeopardy, and I had no other options. I also want to ask you for forgiveness," Akbar told the 15-person military jury before deliberations began.



He should not be asking for forgiveness from the jury. He should be BEGGING for it from the soldiers he injured and the families of those he KILLED. And from God.


Hopefully he'll be meeting his maker soon.

4.28.2005

Filibuster

From C-SPAN Congressional Glossary :


A Filibuster is the term used for an extended debate in the Senate which has the effect of preventing a vote. Senate rules contain no motion to force a vote. A vote occurs only once debate ends. The term comes from the early 19th century Spanish and Portuguese pirates, "filibusteros", who held ships hostage for ransom


So the Senate - namely the Democrats in the Senate - are holding votes "ransom" rather than doing their JOB. Great. Government is slow and cumbersome enough as it is - now we have to add kidnapping (of sorts) into the mix? How did these morons get elected?


I've been doing some reading on the filibuster - its history, its supposrters and detractors, its implications - and I won't rehash it all here. If you're curious enough to what to learn about filibusters, you can do with I did and Google it.


But let me say this : whether you support the existence of the filibuster or you believe it is unConstitutional (as I do), PICK A SIDE AND STICK WITH IT. I can handle people and politicians (the distinction being made because I am beginning to believe that politicians are not people) who believe differently than I. But, damnit, find a conviction and stick with it! Don't change your mind because it suits the situation (yes, I'm speaking to you, Senator Byrd and Senator Leahy). Flip-flpping is what sunk John Kerry's boat (pun : intended) and if you're not careful, it will sink you too.

From : Ross Mackenzie at Townhall.com :

Now we have the spectacle of (a) Democratic Senators such as Robert Byrd deploring the very idea of changing the filibuster rule, when during the years of Democratic dominance he was the master of changing Senate rules to enable Democratic ambitions of the moment. And we have the spectacle of (b) Democratic Senators such as Patrick Leahy supporting the 60-vote filibuster rule now, but having said on for instance June 18, 1998: "I have stated over and over again on this (Senate) floor that I would . . . object and fight against any filibuster on a judge."



And, of course, what would a fight be without the drunk egging everyone on?

Teddy Kennedy: "(I will) resist any Neanderthal that is nominated by this president . . . for any federal court."


Way to do your job there, Senator. Have another drink.








If you cannot tell by now, I am sick to death of all of this. To ALL members of Congress (both sides of the aisle) : shut up and do your job. That's what my tax dollars go to pay for. If I want to hear YOUR opinion, I'll ask you for it.

YOUR JOB IS TO REPRESENT YOUR CONSTITUENTS, NOT YOURSELVES. Most of you seem to have lost sight of that little nugget of knowledge.


Morons.




Linked to Greyhawk's Open Post at Mudville Gazette and Outside the Beltway's Traffic Jam.

The story behind the story

Wednesday, I posted a bit about the end to the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq here.


Today, I read a story here that reveals a bit more about the end of the search and the reasons behind the end.

The American who led the hunt for Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction has revealed that the investigation was cut short after he was targeted by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the militant leader in an attack that left two people dead. The head of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, has reported that his investigation into the possible transfer of WMD to Syria had been wound up because of the "declining security situation".



Yeah, HIS security. I would cut my losses, tuck tail, and run too.

Ok, now we have FOUR

cars, that is. McGyver saw an opportunity and yelled "Carpe Diem!". He found a little beater car for $50. Yup - $50. The ad said it had brake issues. Seems someone put transmission fluid in the brake lines so the brakes don't really work. The emergency brake works but the foot brakes need work.

That's about the only BIG thing it needs. The former owner put in a new alternator and water pump. It needs a few other minor things and then McGyver can probably sell it for $500 or so. I'll take that kind of return!

4.27.2005

Wednesday wrap up

The test is over - got a B. Seems I studied some things that were not on the test and didn't study things that were on the test. Ah, well...live and learn. I'll do better next time.

Now that I've had time to read up on the news, here are a few items that have caught my eye today :

Saudi chief justice urges fighting U.S.

"If someone knows that he is capable of entering Iraq in order to join the fight, and if his intention is to raise up the word of God, then he is free to do so," says Sheik Saleh Al Luhaidan in Arabic on the October audiotape from a government mosque, obtained by NBC News.



WHEN are we going to come to the realization that Saudi Arabia is NOT our ally??? With "friends" like that, who needs enemies?





CIA can't rule out WMD move to Syria


He cited some evidence of a transfer. "Whether Syria received military items from Iraq for safekeeping or other reasons has yet to be determined," he said. "There was evidence of a discussion of possible WMD collaboration initiated by a Syrian security officer, and ISG received information about movement of material out of Iraq, including the possibility that WMD was involved. In the judgment of the working group, these reports were sufficiently credible to merit further investigation."


He said that even if all leads are pursued someday, the ISG may never be able to finally determine whether WMDs were taken across the border. "Based on the evidence available at present, ISG judged that it was unlikely that an official transfer of WMD material from Iraq to Syria took place," his report stated. "However, ISG was unable to rule out unofficial movement of limited WMD-related materials."



Ok - let's review...Saddam had TWELVE YEARS to get rid of these things. Not only did he have 12 years, he had months of advance notice prior to our arrival. He's crazy but he's not dumb. We have satellite images of convoys heading into Syria in the days prior to our invasion.

OF COURSE it wasn't an "official" transfer - NOTHING was official in that country. You think they'd send out a memo?? Please. I can see the text now..."Dear President Bush, You are an infidel. We don't want to play with you anymore so we're going to take our toys and go play with Syria. TTTTHHHHBBBBTTTT! Sincerely, Saddam Hussein"

Whatever.





City Mulls Buffer Zones to Ward Off Sex Offenders


"I believe it's imperative, as far as government, to do everything we can to protect our children," said David Dermer, mayor of Miami Beach.


If we would apply the death penalty to those "people" convicted of committing a crime against a child, we wouldn't have this problem.






Bush Lays Out Energy Plan As Prices Soar


America has not ordered a new nuclear power plant since the 1970s. Bush said that France has built 58 plants in the same period and today France gets more than 78 percent of its electricity from nuclear power.

"It's time for America to start building again," he said.


It's been 30 years since we've built a new refinery in this country too - thankyouverymuch to the environmental special interest groups.


I read somewhere else today that he's proposing that new refineries be built on former military installations. Works for me. More than likely, the smaller communities that had built up around those installations have dwindled due to the economic impact of the base closure. The land is already designed for heavy industry and not very compatible with residential development. I like the idea.




But what do I know?

Gotta clear my head before I hit the sack

Just got done reviewing/studying for my accounting exam that is supposed to take place tomorrow. I say "supposed to" because the proctor can't seem to find the information about WHERE to access the test (it's an on-line test). We'll see. I have my password, my 1 page of notes, and my 2 blank sheets of scratch paper along with my pencil. I need to pick up a calculator tomorrow. Usually I use my Palm Pilot as my calculator but I see that as being a no-no on the test. God only knows what all I could store in there and use to cheat on the test.

So, because I need a calculator, Little Man needs diapers, and I need to get the kids' pictures taken (last time I had portraits done was in JULY...I'm slacking BIG TIME!!!), we're headed down to the NEX at Pearl Harbor. I love that place. It *almost* makes up for not having a single Target on the island.

I have to be back right after lunch so I can drop the kids with McGyver and go take my test. Again, I'm hoping for a B. I *think* I have a pretty good grasp on Statements of Cash Flows and how to analyze financial statements (horizontal, vertical, and ratio analyses) - now we will see if I can stay out of my own way.

The new little Honda is fun to drive. It has a few minor issues (a little hickup in the transmission when you're at a stop, a little slippage coming off the line, the a/c doesn't work and neither does the stereo, the struts for the hatchback need to be replaced, and it needs to be detailed inside) but it's quick and it's been well-cared for. We are the 3rd owners and the 2 previous owners have taken very good care of it. I don't think it has missed a regularly-scheduled oil change in 105,000 miles. Don't plan to start now.

McGyver FINALLY gets to start flying again in a little less than a month. FINALLY!!! At Campbell, they knew he was leaving so he was at the bottom of the list when it came to flight time. And when we got here, the unit wasn't back from the desert yet so there weren't any birds to fly. As it stands now, there is only 1 that is fully functional and there are 3 pilots ahead of McGyver who need flight time. But soon...soon. He'll be a happy camper then.

We've heard from Uncle K in Afghanistan. He now has a platoon to command (much better, in his opinion than sitting behind a desk...don't know that I agree from the worry-wart standpoint but I'll go with it) and is out and about. I just pray that he stays safe and that his men stay safe.

8 days until we get keys. I CANNOT WAIT!!! I have a mental list running of things that we will want to get for the house : a/c and ceiling fan for the back bedroom, patio furniture (since I suspect we will be eating out in the backyard often), a breakfast island/table for the kitchen (where is my father when I need him??), and new bathroom stuff - for the "public" bathroom and our bathroom (I plan to re-do ours). Oh, and a bench for the front porch - no one is allowed to wear shoes inside (per our lease!) so we'll need somewhere for people to sit and take off their combat boots...er, shoes.

Ok - my head is clearer. We'll see if I can get some sleep and not lose the accounting information I tried to cram in my brain this evening...

4.26.2005

COLA to increase in Hawaii

Military.com article

Most servicemembers stationed in Hawaii will see an increase in their May paychecks. April 19, the Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee (PDTATAC) approved Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) changes effective immediately. Based on this year's data, the committee determined changes were due for three Hawaiian Islands (Kauai, Maui and Oahu). Kauai received the largest change with a 4-point increase, while the Big Island remained unchanged. The changes came about as a result of the December 2004 - March 2005 COLA (Retail Price Survey) survey.



For those of you who do not know what COLA is :

The Overseas Cost of Living Allowance is a supplement designed to equalize purchasing power between members overseas and their CONUS-based counterparts. The average supplement is $300 per month. The basic measurement is a comparison of CONUS shopping behavior and the aggregate shopping behavior at each overseas location. It impacts 320,000 members at approximately 600 locations overseas, including Alaska and Hawaii. The current cost is approx. $1 billion annually.


viaDOD website


So our COLA is going up. There was an increase in the housing allowance at the beginning of the year and a COLA increase about that time too. That's wonderful news but it doesn't help much.


Don't get me wrong - I am NOT complaining. But I was talking with a friend of mine - a former Captain with 4th ID - yesterday and he asked me if we were renting or buying our house that we are moving into in LESS THAN SEVEN DAYS (not that I'm counting...). I just about dropped the phone from laughing so hard.


BUY a house in Hawaii?? HA! Not on our income or that of most people we know. We *might* be able to find a condo that was within our budget and fit our needs but it's doubtful. If we did, most likely the commute would just about kill McGyver and our gas budget.

Hypothetically speaking, our housing allowance is about $2200 and our COLA is just over $500 per month. In the area in which we are renting, an average 3 bedroom house goes for about $350,000 (for the lower end houses) and up. For this example, I'll use a purchase price of $400,000. Assuming a 30 year mortgage and a 6% fixed rate loan through the VA with zero on the down payment (remember, we're still busting our butts to pay off our debts), our mortgage payment (not including homeowner's insurance, property taxes, etc) would be about $2400 per month.

The interest rate assumption is a big one on my part - I have little clue as to what the average mortgage rate is right now nor do I know what we would qualify for (probably not that wonderful of a rate just because our existing debt load is high).

Now, we COULD afford the mortgage payment (and insurance, taxes, utilities, repairs, etc.) but that would mean Princess Trouble would not be able to go to preschool, or dance classes, or swimming lessons. And Little Man would not get any kind of time with mommy alone because Princess Trouble would not be in school. And I'd probably have to go back to work and put my kids in day care so that we could afford to eat more than "rice and beans, beans and rice" each day.

We COULD do it. But we're not going to. I don't mind renting right now. Really, I don't. There is a sense of security in knowing that, should the toilet start shooting water toward the ceiling or the roof cave in above the garage...I can CALL THE PROPERTY MANAGER. Even if McGyver is playing Army in the desert somewhere, I can CALL THE PROPERTY MANAGER and not have to exhaust our (meager) savings to pay for it. There is also a sense of security in knowing that, if we wind up hating the house we've rented, we are only tied to it for a year and should we choose to cut our losses at a year, we're not sacrificing the closing costs, down payment, etc. that we would have put into a purchased house.

Not to mention the fact that I'm still a little gun-shy on the whole "you'll be here for at least 3 years" thing...


My point is this : while the increase in COLA (and the increase in housing allowance back in January) is welcome, don't think for a moment that it's going to make a huge difference over here. It will help but right now I don't know that it is possible to keep up with the pace of rising prices here right now.

Hits!!! Lots of hits!

Seems that this place was a happenin' thing yesterday...either that or my counter software has a glitch. I racked up 130-some-odd hits yesterday! Woohoo!

I realize that, compared to some of the bigger blogs out there, 130 is piddly but for me, that's more hits than I usually get in a week!

Cool beans!

Gas prices - not what you'd expect

Bush Urges Saudis to Boost Oil Production


Asked whether pump prices would drop, Bush said that would depend on supply and demand.



Ok, I'm no economist - not by a LONG shot. But here's my take on the whole gas situation...


Gas prices are going up. They will continue to go up because we've managed to keep gas prices low for so long that the pressure on the market has finally reached a boiling point.

Gas in Europe is upwards of $6 per gallon (roughly translated from the per litre price). SIX BUCKS per GALLON! Holy schnikies, batman! And we're bitching over $2.50 per gallon.


PUHLEEZE....


How about we stop driving our H2's and Excursions that get 10 miles to the gallon (on a GOOD day) and start using mass transit and hybrid vehicles instead? I'm sick of all of the whining that I hear on a DAILY basis about gas prices and how big of a strain it is on all of us.


Horse puckey (ala COL Potter).


I drive a mid-sized SUV. It gets decent gas mileage (about 15-18 miles to the gallon) and I try to limit my driving, drive with the a/c off as often as possible, keep the tires inflated properly, group my errands together - all to help minimize our gas consumption. We sold McGyver's Land Cruiser - primarily because it was a gas hog that got (on a GOOD day) 11 miles to the gallon. And now - in the interest of, once again minimizing our gas consumption, we've downsized to a Honda Civic hatchback that gets 30+ miles to the gallon. If I could afford a hybrid, I'd own one.

I'm all for President Bush working with the Saudi Arabian government to boost production and I'm completely in support of exploring our own oil reserves in Alaska. But to think that these 2 things will have much impact on the current increase in gas prices is ignorant.

Gas prices are going up due to naturally occuring inflationary forces. Gas prices are going up because our demand for it has not backed off even though the fever-pitch of our griping has increased ten-fold. Gas prices are going up because our refineries are at their limits (whether those limits are self-imposed...i.e. collusion between the petroleum companies...or due to facility limitations is the topic for another day).

We are no worse off than we were a decade ago...it just took 10 years for gas prices to catch up to us.

This is reality people. Adapt and overcome or be assimilated. Something like that. Ride your flipping bike to work or take the damn bus. But QUIT COMPLAINING unless you plan to DO something about it.




Linked to Greyhawk's "Open Post" at Muddville Gazette

4.25.2005

How do you explain this to your child?

I almost fell out of my chair when I read THIS story.


I have got a child now that I wasn’t planning to have and I believe the hospital should take some reponsibility for that.


Ok - I'm sorry but if ANYONE should be taking RESPONSIBILITY here, it's this stupid woman. This is the same thing I tell my 9th grade health students : IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HAVE A BABY (or catch a disease that might kill you) DON'T HAVE SEX!!!!! It's pretty simple. Really. It's called "cause and effect" or "the consequences of your actions".

I'm working on teaching my THREE YEAR OLD that concept and she's getting it! If SHE can get it, I'm sure that teenagers can get it. The KEY is whether their parents CHOOSE to teach them the concept.




Obviously this idiot's parents did not.




That poor baby girl. How do you explain to your child that, not only were you not planned for, but that your mother tried to end you and when that didn't work, she tried to pass the blame of your existence off on the hospital???

And what about adoption? Does the UK not believe in adoption? If this is a child you didn't (and probably still don't) want, then why not place her up for adoption and let her be loved by parents who TRULY want her? But that would require self-sacrifice on this woman's part and I doubt she is capable of that.


That poor baby girl.

The countdown

10 days and counting!!! Tomorrow, we'll be into single digit days! Can you tell how ready I am to move into our house???? 10 days until we have 3 bedrooms, a REAL kitchen, a bathroom with more than 5 square feet (actually THREE of them) and a BACKYARD with a fence so I can let the kids go PLAY!!! Woohoo!!!

6 days until we head to Maui. Can't wait for that either. We'll be meeting up with old friends who have children the same ages as Princess Trouble and Little Man and they can spend the time playing!

3 days until my accounting test. So now I am off to review (yet again) the direct and indirect methods of preparing a Statement of Cash Flows and how to analyze financial statements.

And 1 day (well, more like 17 hours) until I get my new little Honda :)


FunFunFun!!!

4.24.2005

Ignorance is bliss, I suppose

So we're driving back from Honolulu/Waikiki today after looking at a new(er) car for me. My Pathfinder is GREAT and I really love it...until I have to put gas in it. For an SUV that is 12 years old, it gets GREAT gas mileage but we could be doing better and I'm sure that my budget will thank me.

I found a 1990 Honda Civic hatchback on Craig's List a few weeks back and finally was able to hook up with the guy today and take a look at it. It's in such good condition that McGyver is actually disappointed that there isn't anything that he will need to do to it. Bummer, let me tell you. But here it is :






Anyway, the guy was asking $2,000 but we offered $1,800 and he took it. We pick it up Monday! I should be getting 30 miles to the gallon next week! Yay! And for a while, we'll have 3 cars - ALL PAID FOR!!!

ANYWAY, on the way back from downtown, we pulled up behind some GENIUS in a sports car with the message

If you can read this then your too close



Now I am no genius. I'm pretty sure my IQ is nothing much above average. But it drives me INSANE when people screw up the words YOUR and YOU'RE. It's not hard...YOUR is possessive - "that is YOUR car". YOU'RE is the contraction that indicates "YOU ARE" as in "YOU ARE AN IDIOT".

And the fact that this idiot not only doesn't know the difference between YOUR and YOU'RE but put it on the back of his CAR just about sent me over the edge. It took most of the self control I could muster not to pull up next to him and tell him what an idiot he is.




I'm weird like that.




I'm on a few chat boards - mostly military spouse stuff - and the people on there who don't know the difference between YOUR and YOU'RE or TWO/TOO/TO or THERE/THEIR/THEY'RE (among other grammar infractions that irritate the you-know-what out of me) literally make my head hurt.

Everyone has their idiosyncracies. This is mine I suppose.

4.23.2005

My head hurts

I have an accounting test coming up next week so I've been trying to fit in study time when I can. I think I'm getting a handle on Statements of Cash Flows and how to analyze financial sattements but MY HEAD HURTS!

Looks like I'll be taking the test Wednesday. I took a practice quiz this evening and scored a whopping 77%. Could have done better if I (again) read the ENTIRE question rather than skimming it and ASSuming I knew what it was asking.

I'd like a B on this test. The chapter that I've started on this week seems to be easier to comprehend (for me, at least) than the 2 previous so hopefully my confidence will pick up.

Maybe I'll just pay my CPA friend to tutor me this week! hehe Or pay her to take my test for me...

4.22.2005

Soft

This week's Photo Friday theme had me a bit stumped. Should I photograph the bed in the hotel room? Nah - it's not all that soft.

What about my midsection? With being cooped up and all, it has become a bit soft (I'm sure the 2 kids didn't help matters but neither did the m&ms or the malasadas...I know, TMI).

I could do a closeup of a baby bottom or baby skin or something of that nature but that was a little TOO predictable. I don't mind being predicatble SOMETIMES.

And then, it hit me. Actually HE hit me...with his head. Little Man had crawled up in my lap while I was sitting and head-butted me and then looked back at me and gave me *that* look.

Verdict : GUILTY

Now let's just hope that the jury continues to do what needs to be done and sentences him to death, preferably via firing squad or, even better...roll a grenade into the tent he's standing in and then shoot him in the back as he tries to escape from the blast.


Sounds good to me.


Military Jury Convicts Sergeant of Murder

4.21.2005

Honest Blogger Quiz

This is a bit old but I just found it and (in case anyone was wondering...) wanted to post my answers.



1. Which political party do you typically agree with?Typically? Republican. However, I vote the person and their stances on teh issues, not what party they belong to. I've voted for Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, you name it - in different levels of government.

2. Which political party do you typically vote for? Again, typically? I'd have to say Republican because 9 times out of 10, their candidate falls in line with my belief system.

3. List the last five presidents that you voted for? Bush, Bush, Perot (yeah, I know), Clinton (that's it - I wasn't old enough to vote until 1990 so the first Presidential election I could vote in was 1992 and, obviously, I was much more liberal than I am now)

4. Which party do you think is smarter about the economy? Based on W's track record, I'd have to say neither party has a CLUE about the economy. But the party isn't just one man so I'd have to go with the Republicans on this one. Run it like the business it is, not the social charity you want it to be.

5. Which party do you think is smarter about domestic affairs? I follow the Libertarian party lines for the most part so, again, I think I fall on the Republican side of things. Let people be in charge of their own lives.

6. Do you think we should keep our troops in Iraq or pull them out? We keep them there until WE are sure that OUR job is done. And right now, it isn't.

7. Who, or what country, do you think is most responsible for 9/11? bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and fundamentalist Islamic extremists.

8. Do you think we will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Doubtful. But I think we WILL find IRAQI weapons of mass destruction in places such as Syria.

9. Yes or no, should the U.S. legalize marijuana? Yes. Continuing to outlaw marijuana is more than hypocritical given the fact that we allow drugs that are FAR more addictive and cause FAR more destruction within our society - nicotine and alcohol - to remain legal. Legalize it, release all prisoners convicted of possession (as long as there was no violent crime of any kind associated with the charge), and make room for the criminals that TRULY belong in jail.

10. Do you think Bill Clinton should have been impeached because of what he did with Monica Lewinski? No - having an affair is not a crime. Lying under OATH is. THAT is what he should have been found guilty of.

11. Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good president? John Kerry ran for President because he thought it would look good on his resume. Hitlary wants to effect total social reorganization. She scares the HELL out of me and very few people scare me.

12. Name a current democrat who would make a great president: Lieberman is the first to come to mind. Zell Miller would be second but he's no longer "active" in politics and he's more Republican than some Republicans I know...

13. Name a current Republican who would make a great president: Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice

14. Do you think that women should have the right to have an abortion? I do not think it is government's role to tell a person what they can and cannot do with (or to) their bodies. With that being said, *I* personally could never have an abortion but it is not MY place to tell someone else what to do with their body. That is between them and God. Additionally, I do not want my tax dollars going to pay for abortions for others.

15. What religion are you? Christian. I am not a fan of "organized religion". It seems to have become more of a business and has lost sight of the true spiritual nature of religion and religious belief.

16. Have you read the Bible all the way through? No - just selected parts. Not yet.

17. What’s your favorite book? There isn't enough room on this server to list them all.

18. Who is your favorite band? U2

19. What website did you see this on first? Bunker Mulligan

Parking lot ruminations

I had some errands to run today...the PX/PXtra (I know, cool name isn't it?), commissary, and the Class VI (aka the liquor store). All are in the same general area so I parked in a centrally located spot and walked to each location. As I was driving to the row in which I wanted to park, I got stuck behind someone waiting for a spot.

Now, that wouldn't be a big deal except for the fact that this person passed up 2 perfectly good parking spots not more than 20 feet past the spot they were waiting for. ANd the spot they were waiting for was occupied by someone who had an ENTIRE cart full of groceries to unload into their trunk.

So...rather than park 20 or so feet further away, this person CHOSE to sit, idling, in the MIDDLE of the freakin' row, and WAIT for this space to open up. Had I been able to squeeze through on either side of them, I would have (probably would have offered up a few salutations of sorts as well) but I couldn't. And genious behind me (and the genius behind him and so on) was so close to the backend of MY car that I had very little wiggle room (for those of you who aren't famliar with a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder, they have NO turning radius...NONE.) So I was stuck.

As I sat there, I noticed a few things. The funniest thing I noticed was the $500 Ford P.O.S. (I'll let YOU figure out what that acronym stands for) with the $2,000 rims on it. Spinners, no less. WHY on Earth would ANYONE (especially someone who obviously could stand a better car) CHOOSE to spend $2,000 on something that ENTERTAINS others? I don't get it. I could *almost* understand it if it were a nice car - even a decent car. But a Ford P.O.S.? C'mon. Priorities people.

The other thing I noticed was that some people really want ME to listen to THEIR music. I'm seriously considering yanking the stereo and CD changer out of my car and selling them. I don't really need them - all I need to do is roll my window down (sometimes THAT isn't even necessary) and listen to the car behind me.


Here's a thought for all of you who like to listen to your music so loud that I can hear it a BLOCK away...if you're going to boost your base to that extent, at least tighten down the license plate frame on the trunk so it doesn't vibrate annoyingly each time the subwoofer booms out. Better yet, turn the damn volume down.

And whoever came up with the concept of "Compact Cars Only" parking spaces should be shot.

A taste of her own medicine

Mo. Man Spits Tobacco Juice on Jane Fonda


"I consider it a debt of honor," he told The Star for a story on its Web site. "She spit in our faces for 37 years. It was absolutely worth it. There are a lot of veterans who would love to do what I did."



There are a lot of NON-veterans who would love to do what he did...me included.

She's a traitor who provided aid and comfort to the enemy and contributed, almost single-handedly (along with John F. Kerry) to the reprehensible our Vietnam veterans received and STILL receive.

She should be jailed and put to death like all other traitors.

Windy two-five

That was the Chinook that our friend, Chuck, was on when it went down a little over 2 weeks ago. His funeral is tomorrow - if you could hold his family and friends in prayer, I'm sure that would go a long way toward easing their grief and sadness.

Blackfive has a nice post about those on board here.

I read an article today about the tragedies that soldiers in Afghanistan have had to face of late...they are carrying around quite a burden of grief right now. Prayers to all. Stay safe and come home soon...all of you.

Donations sought for Fisher House

Link : Military.com article

The Fisher House organization is looking to build another one of its fabulous facilities in Palo Alto, CA. If you don't know what the Fisher House is, please read up on it.
The Fisher House


If you can, please make a donation - every little bit helps and many, many families will be more thankful than you will ever know.

Make a contribution.


This is one of those things that, for those of you who do not "support the war" but support the troops can put your money where your mouth is. And for those of us who support both, this is just another avenue to show we care.

Finally, a good defense

Senate approves plan to track sex offenders


Finally, Florida gets something right. Too bad it took them so long.

4.20.2005

The best defense is a good offense

Law Calls for Predator Tracking


Under the Jessica Lunsford Act approved Tuesday by the House of Representatives, future sexual offenders who prey on children younger than 12 years old will face at least 25 years in prison and a lifetime of satellite tracking if they are released.



You know, if we imposed the death penalty on anyone convicted of any kind of sexual offense against a child under the age of 12, we wouldn't have to worry about any of this crap. People who prey on children in this manner do not deserve to live. There is no "rehabilitation" for people like this. You cannot "cure" a pedophile.


But you sure can prevent them from ever doing it again. End them.

No "25 years in prison". No "satellite tracking". End them.










Our children will not be safe until we, as a society, put our foot down and say "No more!". Until that time that we choose to properly protect our children from the scum that prey on them, they will never be truly safe.

My children will not have the same childhood that I had. They will not have the freedoms that I enjoyed. I could roam the streets during the day and - for the most part - my parents didn't have too much to worry about. And what they DID have to worry about was usually stuff I managed to get MYSELF into. I could go play at friends' houses without my parents really worrying about who might be there.

Not anymore. My children are not out of my sight. I realize they are still small but I don't know that there is an age at which I will feel comfortable letting them out of my sight.

Hell, kids in Florida aren't even safe INSIDE THEIR OWN HOMES! IN THEIR OWN BEDS!! Where does it end? When will we choose to make children our top priority and stop making the "rights" of the criminals the priority?

It makes me mad. And sad. I'm mad that I can't enjoy the relative lassiez-faire attitude that my parents had when I was a child. And I'm sad that my kids will not get to experience the freedoms I did. And I'm not sure WHO I am more angry at - the evil scumbags that prey on our children or the politicians, judges, and "criminal-rights activists" who continue to allow them to walk the Earth.



But that legislation, a $56 million proposal considered too costly to enact, has stalled in both the House and Senate.





How much is the life of YOUR child worth? My kids are definitely worth more than $56 million.






Much more.

4.19.2005

My response

After having a day to let myself calm down, here is my response to the letter sent out by the Battalion FRG leader. Obviously, names have been altered...

April 19, 2005


Dear Mrs. *****,


After having read the letter you sent out to the FRG leaders within your Battalion, I too feel compelled to respond. We have been a part of the Chinook family for almost 7 years now. The first 3 years of that time were spent as part of the Sugarbear family in Alaska. We still have friends stationed up there and consider the Sanders’ family to be friends as well.

Regardless of the fact that we have been gone from Alaska for almost 3 years now, we still consider ourselves to be a part of the Sugarbear family – once a Sugarbear, ALWAYS a Sugarbear. That is how it has always been and how it will always will be. That is how the Chinook community operates. It doesn’t matter where you are stationed or even if you are no longer part of active duty life – you will ALWAYS be a part of the family.

People in the Chinook community are some of the most wonderful people I have met. They are down to earth, genuine, friendly, and willing to go to great lengths to help you out. That is what family is all about. The letter you sent out did not seem to grasp that concept. That is unfortunate, given the position of leadership you are in.

Your letter made it into the hands of Chuck’s wife and hurt her at a time when she should have been lifted up by those around her. I am sure that was not your intention but that was the consequence. Even though the Sanders family had left Alaska 5 months prior to Chuck’s death, their family is still considered to be a part of the Sugarbear family – once a Sugarbear, ALWAYS a Sugarbear. Additionally, many of their good friends remain in Alaska and are – undoubtedly – suffering due to this tragedy and should be able to expect the support of their Battalion FRG in this matter.

I do hope that this was just an oversight and a misunderstanding of your true intentions and feelings. I would hate to think that a Battalion FRG leader could fail to understand the type of support that is deserved and necessary at a time such as this.


Respectfully,
********* ***



I feel better now.

10 years ago today...

...we wept.


Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial

(hat tip : Rantingprofs)


Ten years is a long time and yet it seems like yesterday.

4.18.2005

Reliving my childhood

When I was 8 or so, "Santa" gave me a pair of tennis-shoe skates. They were the COOLEST thing I owned and I went EVERYWHERE in them. Loved them. They were a size too big for me so I got a LOT of use out of them before I outgrew them.

We were at Savers the other day and look what I found...







I'm not quite as adept on them as I used to be but hey, it's been 20+ years so the fact that I did NOT land on my keister while trying them out is a good thing! My calves and my butt and the balls of my feet hurt like you wouldn't believe but that's what Motrin is for.

I'm loving it!

Not how I would have handled it

Most of you know that the Chinook community lost one of it's own a little while ago in a crash in Afghanistan. Chuck Sanders was the Flight Engineer on board and had been stationed in Alaska for 2 tours prior to his reassignment to Germany 5 months before the crash. Therefore he left behind many friends back in Alaska - in a unit dealing with the stress of its own deployment.

Here is an (altered) copy of a letter sent out to the families of the Sugarbears (the Chinook unit in Alaska) by the leader of the Battalion Family Readiness Group (aka FRG):

This is an email all FRG leaders received from (the Battalion FRG Coordinator) and she wanted me to pass it along to all of our families:
Dear Arctic Knight Families,
I am emailing you in response to all the concern and response to the CH-47 that crashed in Afghanistan 2 days ago. It has been rumored that a former 4-123 Arctic Knight was among the casualties on that aircraft. I highlight the word rumored because the Rear Detachment and myself have no official information confirming or denying this rumor. I have been in touch with the 18th Aviation Brigade Commander’s wife, Mrs. ***** *****, last night and this morning. Her husband, Colonel *****, and the 12th Aviation Brigade Commander are still working this accident which means that all notifications have not been made. Until that time no names will be released.
The Rear Detachment and myself will send out an email to every family member in 4-123 if this rumor turns out to be a rumor and no former 4-123 soldier was among the casualties. If the rumor turns to be an actuality then I will contact your Company FRG leaders with a message and you will be contacted by your key caller and the battalion will send the family our sympathies.
I want to thank you for all your concern and caring and I also want to remind you that this soldier rumored to be killed and all other soldiers that have PCS’d from our unit are now part of another family support group. I pray for all of them but our Rear Detachment cannot field phone calls about every incident that happens in all other units. They are working tirelessly to support our 500 soldiers deployed and still deploying (we have 5 soldiers leaving Saturday to deploy over) and their families here. Please, if you have any concerns or questions contact your Company FRG leader or myself. We will get the most accurate information out to you as soon as we can. Aviation is a small community and when we lose an aircraft and soldiers we all feel it throughout. This war has cost ***** and myself some friends so I understand your concern. Please be patient until we can get the proper authorities, DA, USARAK, or 18th AVN BDE to confirm or deny the rumor.
Until then, please pray for the families that are facing this terrible loss and are still waiting to know. Pray for our warriors fighting the same cause in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and here in Alaska!
4-123 Families Care!
Sincerely,
**** *****



This is unbelievable. This is NOT what the Chinook community is about. We are a FAMILY and it doesn't matter if he was no longer a part of that unit - he was still family. And where does that leave his wife and children? Five months is not enough time to develop and nurture bonds that will sustain you through a tragedy such as this. The people most able to help SSG Sander's wife and children are those people they left behind in Alaska.

And while I understand that the Rear Detachment and the FRG in Alaska are there to help the families of THAT unit, those people were FRIENDS with the Sanders and therefore DESERVE THE HELP OF THE REAR DETACHMENT AND THE FRG.

I am so angry right now that I could spit nails. This is the height of insensitivity and callousness. It is incomprehensible to me that someone who is supposed to be in a position of SUPPORT could do this.


Several Chinook family members - many (if not all) being either current or former Sugarbears themselves, sent a letter in reply. Here is the (altered) text :

Subject: A soldiers message regarding SSG Sanders, ALWAYS A SUGARBEAR
Date: Sun, 10 Apr 2005 08:16:50 -0700 (PDT)
Mrs. *****,
We just finished reading the message you sent out to all the FRG leaders concerning the CH-47 crash and I felt compelled to respond. I'm sure your intent was not to be dismissive but that is how it was interpreted by many families. The death of SSG Chuck Sanders is not a rumor - it is a fact. I understand the reasons behind waiting for official notification but that doesn't change the fact that (his wife) is now a widow and (his children) are without a father. It makes no difference that the Sanders’ are no longer in our Battalion. They arrived in Germany just a few months prior to his deployment so I'm sure they are much closer to the people in Alaska than to their current FRG.
The FRG is about taking care of actual people, not serving a select group of customers. If you take the personal aspect away you are left with nothing but a lot of work and useless meetings. There is never a greater need for the FRG than when someone dies - regardless if they are in Germany or Alaska. We have already received numerous e-mails offering help from people outside of the Battalion who are not concerned about whose command he was under.
What they care about is the person. I feel pretty confident that (his wife) is not interested in the sympathies of a Battalion - what she needs is understanding and compassion from individuals. I can understand the frustration involved in dealing with numerous phone calls and having no answers but please do not send out an e-mail that insinuates that it isn't our FRG's problem. Many friends of the Sanders’ remain in Alaska and they need the support. The FRG is there to support the emotional and physical needs of families and if this incident doesn't meet that criteria then we need to re-evaluate what we are doing.
He was not just a former soldier from 4/123, he was a good friend to many of the people here and in Alaska and his family will continue to belong to the SUGARBEARS and the chinook community indefinitely. She and the kids deserve all the help we can give.
David Lyons
(also signed by 14 other Chinook family members)



That pretty much covered everything that I would have said only without the expletives.


And for the record, SSG Sanders' funeral will be Thursday, April 21, 2005. His family could still use the prayers and good thoughts.

Chuck Sanders' memorial website

A steep learning curve

So I'm back in school...kind of. I'm taking some courses via "distance education" (i.e the United States Postal Service and the Internet) in order to bolster my credential once I actually go back to work. This term (12 weeks or so) I am taking a full load - 12 credits. I'm taking a nutrition class (not bad - it's very similar to a class I took when getting my original degree so it's familiar territory), a substance abuse class (no, not on HOW to abuse substances...smart alecks), and a managerial accounting class.

What the heck was I *thinking*??? We're HOMELESS! We're in the middle of a move, I have 2 children under the age of 4 while we are cooped up in this hotel, and I barely have time to take a shower each day, let alone slog through 12 credits INCLUDING MANAGERIAL ACCOUNTING.

Add to that the fact that the company from which I ordered the textbook for the substance abuse class screwed up and (now that we are 4+ weeks into the class) I still don't have my textbook. Add to THAT the fact that the last accounting class I took was SEVEN YEARS AGO...and I didn't do that well to begin with. I think I managed a "C". I love math. LOVE IT. I do it for FUN. Really.

But accounting? Can't get my brain around it. Thankfully I have a friend in town who is a CPA and she is shaping up to be my saving grace. I'll bust my butt and be happy with a "C" and thrilled with a "B". I'm not worried about the substance abuse class either - I took a course with the same professor last term and a lot of the subject matter is similar so once I get my book, I can take off running.

But my nutrition class...let's just say my EGO will be the death of me. I just got my grade back on my first test - it was a take home test. Not hard...if you take the time to do it properly.














I didn't.


I recognized the fact that some of the questions were right out of the text so I ASSumed the answers were the same. Well...not so much. The actual answer was the same but the letter CORRESPONDING to the answer wasn't and - because my ego got in my way - I missed that little nugget of information and got 3 answers WRONG.

Add to that the fact that I didn't really READ the instructions for the short answer portion of the test and failed to see the part about only needing to answer 8 of the 11 possible questions. So I answered the ALL. Not only did I answer them all, I completely screwed up one of the questions (luckily, it was one that the professor didn't actually count toward my grade but she did point out to me how badly I screwed it up).

I need to stop ASSuming that I am smarter than the teacher. It's been my problem ever since Kindergarten. And - 9 times out of 10 - I'm wrong. Well, maybe 8 times out of 10...or 7...

4.16.2005

The silver lining

Dave Ramsey would be proud. In fact, if I can make this happen, I will call him and tell him what we've done.

By the time we move into our house, we will have been in temp lodging (aka "The Fishbowl") for 75 days. HOWEVER, there is a silver lining. Keep in mind it is after midnight and I have been juggling managerial accounting homework and nutrition homework so my numbers may be a bit off. BUT...by the time we move into our house, we will have paid off 1 car, bought another with cash, paid off 4 (FOUR!) credit cards, and be making a dent in the last one as well as the student loans.




All in all, we're talking over $18,000 of debt wiped off the board! HOLY COW!!! All of that in 3 months. Granted, some of that was thanks to a decent tax return and a LOT of that is due to the generous amount of per diem reimbursement we are getting but it also comes as a result of tightening the belt. We don't go out to eat much. And when we do, it's to places like Chili's where our tab is always less than $50. We don't have anywhere to really PUT stuff so neither one of us is buying much these days (a trend I'm hoping to continue once we get moved in). And we're getting good at doing things as a family that are either cheap or free.

Sure, we splurge. We're going to Maui in 2 weeks and I don't plan to skimp while we're there. McGyver's parents are coming for a visit and I don't plan to skimp while they are here either. But on an every day basis, we're running a pretty lean, mean machine.

I love it. LOVE IT!!! We may actually be able to achieve our goal of being debt free (and that INCLUDES the student loans) by our 10th anniversary! Oh, wouldn't that be wonderful!!! Two and a half years...we can do it.


So as much as I may gripe about being stuck in the Fishbowl or count down the days until we move out of here, I am truly greatful we are here.

4.15.2005

In memory of Charles Sanders, Jr.

Please stop by Chuck Sanders' memorial site. I'm sure his wife and children would appreciate knowing how much his sacrifice is appreciated by us.

4.14.2005

Quick observations

Still working on the coursework but I'm making headway. I am hoping to have most of it wrapped up by the weekend so we can enjoy ourselves.

I was scanning Yahoo! headlines today and these two articles caught my attention :

1.) Roundup Nabs More Than 10,000 Fugitives

I'm thrilled that our Justice Department has caught these people but isn't that their JOB? Why do we have to have an EVENT for the Marshals Service to actually CATCH CRIMINALS and send them back where they came from?

Of course, if we were to actually secure our borders like they SHOULD be, we wouldn't have this problem in the first place...




Experts: San Quentin Prison Conditions Bad

I'm sorry...I didn't realize that PRISON was supposed to resemble a hotel. I thought it was PRISON!

Yes, the conditions are BAD - it's PRISON!!!


Of course, if we were to actually deport those prisoners that are not legal residents of this country that are currently being housed at San Quentin and other prisons throughout this country, I bet the over-crowding issue would cease to exist...But what do *I* know?

"We're pouring a billion dollars into health care in corrections. To my mind, that's enough. The question is, where is it going?"

Stuff like that infuriates me. I don't know about you but when I pay my bills, I am pretty aware of where the money goes. By the end of the month, I can tell you - with decent accuracy, where the money went. IT'S NOT HARD! Just because there are a few more zeroes on the end of the figures shouldn't make it any more difficult.


Where's Dave Ramsey when you need him?














Stupidity kills me.

4.13.2005

Oh, and another thing

If your posted hours are 8am to 4:30pm, BE THERE AT 4:30PM. Don't close up shop 10 minutes early. I can't tell you how much it pisses me off to bust my butt to get somewhere before their closing time, only to find out that employees decided to close up shop EARLY and go home.

The testing center at the Education Center on post will be getting an earful tomorrow.


I thought everyone knew not to make the redhead mad.

Truth in Advertising

Ok - If you're going to bill your business as "31 Flavors" then dammit, HAVE THIRTY-ONE FLAVORS!















Or at least the ONE I want.

4.12.2005

It's official

The Department of Defense finally released the names of those on board the Chinook that went down in Afghanistan last week. Even though I knew our friend had been killed, there is a finality when you see it in print. Still no word on memorial service plans but his wife is asking for photos and stories about her husband. She wants to put together a scrapbook about him for their kids - so they won't forget him.


On a happier note, we finally got a HOUSE! The lease is signed, the deposit is paid, the delivery of household goods is scheduled. We don't move in until after May 1 but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we're counting down! Woohoo!

I may not be posting much this week - I have several assignments due for school as well as 1 take-home test to complete and 1 exam to study for. Have a good week.

Instead of reading MY blog, check out the links to your left and see what they have to say this week.

4.10.2005

Small blessings

The Chinook crash and the loss of our friend has been weighing heavily on my mind lately. But one small blessing tha thas come of all of this is renewed contact with friends we have not spoken with in a while. Tragedy unites and this one is no different.

In the past 2 days, we have spoken to no less than 10 people who we had either fallen completely out of touch with or had not been speaking to much. Like I said, the Chinook community is SO small and the longer you are in it, the smaller it becomes.

That is a blessing and a curse at the same time. This one hit a little too close for comfort. Just too close. And while it is upsetting, it is interesting to see how closely it hit others too. Others who are not even in the Chinook community. I have read several blogs this week written by spouses left behind who gasp in horror anytime they hear about a Chinook going down because they know someone. Or the spouse whose husband was catching a ride on a Chinook the day the crash happened.

You would think that the Army would be a much bigger community but when something like this happens, it gets real small real quick. But one of the things I love most about this life is the support. The banding together that takes place in the face of major life events : birth, death, sickness, you name it.




We take care of our own. Always. And what a blessing that is.

4.09.2005

A memorial fund is set up

Our friend who died in the Chinook crash left behind 2 children : a 5 year old boy and a 3 year old girl. A memorial fund has been set up for them. I have the account information if anyone is interested.

No word yet on a memorial service.

Malasadas and Kailua

If you've ever tried beignets before then you will have an idea what malasadas are.

There is a little vendor trailer over in Waikele and I've been meaning to try them since the first time I saw it. Finally got the chance today. Not quite as delectible as a beignet but close enough to make me happy.

You can get them either plain (topped with cinnamon sugar) or custard-filled. Being the purist that I am, I opted for the plain. They were too hot to handle at first but soon enough I was burning the roof of my mouth on one. It was like eating a fried cloud - they are puffy, hot, and steamy. I'm sure, had I not had to share with the rest of the family, I could have plowed through the box of 6 all by myself.


Quickly.




KAILUA

Last night we headed over to the windward side of the island. McGyver had a line on a surfboard for cheap and a backpacking water filter for FREE. We stopped for dinner at Buzz's Steakhouse. McGyver and Princess Trouble had the teriyaki chicken and I had one of their fish specials (don't ask me what it was...I can't remember the name...it was similar to red snapper). Quite yummy. Across the beach is Kailua Beach Park - a lovely area with a small channel that comes inland and seems to provide some nice, shallow water to let the kids play in. I think we will have to head back over that way again soon. The park looks like a WONDERFUL place to picnic.


To get to Kailua you can take Interstate H3 to get there (your other options being Likelike highway or Pali highway). H3 is beautiful but controversial. It only took 25 YEARS of construction to complete this thing. In the process, they managed to destory native Hawaiian burial sites thanks in part to the rerouting that was forced to take place because the original route through Moanalua Valley was declared a historic site. Had they left the route as planned, the environmental impact would have actually been LESS than it wound up being.

Way to go Greenpeace...


Anyway, it was a beautiful drive.

My PhotoFriday blog

is UP!


You can check it out HERE.

4.08.2005

Just like that.

Just like that. In the blink of an eye.

We haven't talked to him or his family since leaving Alaska 2 and a half years ago. And today I got a phone call from a good friend of ours informing me that our friend was one of the crew members on board the Chinook that crashed in Afghanistan yesterday.


Just like that.


He has a wife and 2 kids - a son who is a little older than Princess Trouble and a daughter who is just younger.


Just like that, they are without their husband and father.


I cannot imagine the sheer terror that goes through the heart of the spouses in a unit when word hits that a helicopter has gone down. I know the sinking in my stomach is nothing compared to theirs.


And then you wait.


And wait.

And pray and wait some more.

There's a part of you that doesn't know what to pray for - how can you pray that it's NOT you receiving the visit from the Chaplain when you KNOW that means that someone else will be getting that visit? How do you wish that on someone else?

How do you find the physical strength to open the door when you KNOW what is waiting for you and your family on the other side? I don't know that I could. I think my first, gut instinct would be to run in the opposite direction as fast as I could. Because as long as no one told me that news, I could go on believing that everything was ok.

And how do you tell your children? I'm not sure what would be harder - hearing the news or having to break it to my small children.




I love military life. I really do. And in my heart, I know that when it is time to go, it is time to go. And what you're doing at the time doesn't really matter. You could be walking across the street and be hit by a bus. When it is time, it is time. And there is an honor - a true honor - that comes with giving your life for your country. And that means something. But I'm sure it doesn't make it hurt any less.





PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE pray for this family. For his wife...that she can find the strength to help her family through this. For his children...that they may only remember the good times with their father and that they may grow to realize the honor with which he served his country.



Just like that.

4.06.2005

A knot in the stomach

We woke up to the news that a Chinook had gone down in Afghanistan. This one is a double whammy...

16 Killed In Chinook Crash

The Chinook community is so small, as I've mentioned before, that there are literally two degrees of separation. You either KNOW the crew or you know SOMEONE who knows them. We're waiting anxiously to hear what unit and installation the helicopter was from and who the crew was. Whoever they were, our hearts and prayers go out to their families. I cannot imagine the dread that comes with that knock on the door.

The other whammy in this is that Uncle K is there. In Afghanistan. And he is one who could be a passenger on a Chinook at times. So the dread is there too.

No news is good news and we have no news so that is good. But we still worry and we still pray. A lot.














A WHOLE lot.

And the winner is...

...probably the smaller house. We *think*. How's that for non-committal?

We went and walked through the "Hot Tub House" and THERE'S NO HOT TUB!!! Seems it broke and it was removed with no plans to replace it. AND there was no corresponding drop in rent either. Not that the price wasn't already a good price but when you're using a hot tub to advertise a rental property, you might want to refigure the rent if said hot tub is no longer included.

Beyond that, the house really didn't have much "WOW" quality to it. Yes, the yard is nice. But the kitchen wasn't as good as the smaller house nor did it come with a fridge. The "Hot Tub House" had 2 living areas - a big front room/dining room and then a smaller family room toward the back - but the bedrooms were small, the layout was a little awkward, and the living areas (living rooms, dining room, kitchen) were a PEACH/white combination. Blech. Last time I did peach on walls I was 16 and it was 1988. I'm older and wiser now.

The smaller house has a few things going for it - things that, by taking them into consideration, make me realize I may actually be on my way to becoming an "adult". Shh...don't TELL anyone...

The smaller house is closer to (what I consider to be) a better school. So when Princess Trouble starts school, she will be going to the best school available to her. And secondly, the smaller house is less expensive. Granted, we're only talking $250 but over the course of 3-6 years (if McGyver extends...) we're talking anywhere from $9,000 to $18,000 in savings. That's a BIG consideration. That could mean the difference between having ALL of our bills paid off before we leave this rock or not. The difference between really making some headway on college funds for the kids or a down payment fund for a house. BIG consideration.

The other consideration is the property manager. We feel a bit of loyalty to the manager of the smaller house - he hadn't even advertised the house when he told us about it. From all accounts this is a man who will bend over backward to help and does his job WELL. He goes the extra mile if your spouse is deployed which makes ME feel better.

The manager of the "Hot Tub House"...well, he kind of reminds me of a stereotypical used car salesman. Not completely smarmy but on the verge of being so. Kind of makes me wonder how he would respond to a 2am phone call when my hot water heater explodes.

We have our application in on both. We are set to sign a lease on the smaller house on Friday. And we will, assuming nothing drastic changes between now and then.

Another tough situation

I swear, it's feast or famine with us these days. We go for WEEKS with little or no prospects in the house hunting department. Now we have 2 different places we a looking at. Both are good deals - nothing outstanding but good deals.


House #1 is the house I posted about here. 3BR/3BA with a 2 car garage and a nicely sized kitchen. Small yard but a great area. And it's LESS than our housing allowance. But it's not available until May 1.

House #2 is one I found today and have not yet been inside of. We are scheduled to take a look-see tomorrow afternoon. It's a 4BR/2BA with a 2 car garage and a HOT TUB. The yard is big (by Hawaii standards) and nicely landscaped. It's a little more (about $250 per month more) but it's available TOMORROW.


Here's the kicker...Army regulations state that you can only stay in temporary lodging (The Fishbowl) for 60 days. April 18 is our 60th day. We've put in for an extension but won't know until tomorrow whether it's been approved.

It will come down to a few things :

1.) whether our TLA extension has been approved. If it hasn't, we need to find something to live in before April 18.

2.) how our meeting with the landlord of house #1 goes tomorrow

3.) what the inside of house #2 looks like

4.) whether the landlord of house #2 accepts us as the tenants should we decide to apply for it

5.) my level of sanity or lack thereof on the day the decision needs to be made. 46 days of living in The Fishbowl takes its toll on someone who didn't have a whole lot of sanity to begin with.


Decisions, decisions, decisions...

4.05.2005

Rain, rain...go AWAY!

It's raining here. Again. It's been raining here for...oh, I don't know...about 3 months.

I'm about tired of the rain.

It makes it even harder to be cooped up in this Fishbowl if we can't really go outside. I mean, we *could* but then I'd have to listen to Princess Trouble whine about getting wet. And I'd have to keep Little Man from eating the worms.




NOT my idea of fun.




An update on the house...so far, so good. We are filling out the application tomorrow. The property manager was somewhat surprised that we are interested in it - he says it's small. It's not BIG but it's not small. And it's in a perfect location and the price is right so we'll deal with it.

In fact, the lack of extra space will force us to keep our possessions in check which is something we need to work on.

And the nice thing is that, because the rent is less than I had budgeted for, we can wipe out ALL of our credit card debt in less than 2 years. We can *probably* wipe out most of our student loan debt in the 2 years after that. And that's not taking into consideration any monies earned by McGyver should he deploy or raises in the future.

This is something I have to brag about. We have a lot of debt. Not so much that it gets in the way of our lives but enough to cause my stomach to tighten up and my blood pressure to go up. We had microbrew tastes on a Coors light budget in college and now we're paying for it. Dave Ramsey calls it the Stupid Tax. And the interest rate is painful.

But this move (painful though it may be in some ways) has been good for us, financially. We made a decision to live as frugally as possible while we are in the Fishbowl and it's paying off. By the time we move into our house toward the end of April, we will have paid off over 25% of our total debt, including the car. Hopefully we can continue to be "gazelle intense" once we get settled.

4.03.2005

A light at the end of the tunnel...maybe

Well, we went and looked at a house today. Here are the basics :

3 bedroom
3 bathroom
large kitchen
2 car garage
a/c in living room and 2 out of 3 bedrooms
carpet


and it's within our housing allowance.

It's in a great location - close to work for McGyver, close to school for Princess Trouble and the school district that it's in is one of the best public school districts on the island, and it's close to the highway so we can head down to Honolulu whenever we want to and not have to worry about traffic.

Now the nitty gritty...

The kitchen is BIG. Wide open with a small dining area/bay window. PLENTY of counter space as well as lots of storage space. Nice appliances.

The MBR is decent sized and has a nice BIG closet - semi-walk-in closet - and it's own bathroom. The 2nd BR is small but not tiny, especially by Hawaii standards. The 3rd BR is HUGE and has it's own bathroom as well. However, the 3rd BR does not have a/c or a ceiling fan but we'll probably fix that. The living room is nice sized and should accommodate our furniture well. There is a closet in the living room and a small linen closet in the hall, across from the hall bathroom. The garage is, well, a garage.

The yard is small and has more concrete than grass but it DOES have grass and the concrete will allow Princess Trouble to ride her bike (once we get one for her). It's a corner lot and the neighborhood is quiet.

And the added bonus is that the property manager/landlord is the same guy that came so highly recommended by McGyver's co-worker. The current tenants said that they have been quite pleased with him as well. The utilities will run a little less than what I had planned so that's a bonus as well.

I'm not sure when it will be available for us to move in but I suspect the beginning of May which is ok. As long as there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE keep your fingers crossed for us on this one. I don't know that my sanity can survive much more...

America and Me

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

4.02.2005

What are they thinking?

If we EVER buy a house and choose to rent it out with the help of a property management company, we will most definitely choose a company that is OPEN ON THE WEEKENDS!

Who, in their right mind, is CLOSED on a weekend when your livelihood is to rent properties? Would it not make sense to cater to those who WORK? Therefore, would it not make sense to be open on the WEEKENDS???


Unbelievable.


There are a few new places on the market but most are either too small or too expensive. There is one website I use most often and you can rank the properties according to either price, number of bedrooms, or date available or a combination thereof.

In the places we are looking to rent, the properties go from 2 bedrooms (within our price range but too small) to $2500 and above (big enough but too expensive). There is NOTHING in between.

We found out today that the inexpensive house we looked at a while back is still available to rent but won't be available to move into until end of April. And it's not $1400 but it's still inexpensive. We are also scheduled to look at a house tomorrow (in a wonderful part of town AND within our budget) and another mid-week (also in a great part of town but a little out of our price range).

So we have leads. I am hoping that tomorrow yields more new listings and that next week will see even more. We will see...

4.01.2005

Homesick

I'm homesick. Probably because I don't have a HOME right now. Don't ask me WHERE I'm homesick for...couldn't answer that one clearly.

I miss SoCal - my hometown. I miss the familiarity, the variety, the memories, and the friends I've left behind.

I miss Colorado. We got a letter/pictures from old friends of ours (my brother's best man in his wedding) and it brought back wonderful memories of Colorado. I miss the environment, the smells, the seasons, the food, and the friends we left behind.

I miss Alaska. I miss my job there (well, most of it). I miss the familiarity (again), the wonderful group of people we got to know - the friends we left behind.

I miss Alabama. I miss the church we became a part of. I miss the wonderful hospital my baby boy was born in. I miss the friends I left behind.

And I miss Fort Campbell. We were only there for 8 months but again, we left friends behind.

Seems to be a theme in my life. I understand that is one of the "perks" of military life (pardon the sarcasm). I knew that when McGyver enlisted with my blessing.














It's just that some days, I deal with it better than others. This is one of THOSE days...