Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just a Common Soldier

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho' sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician's stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It's so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

© 1987 A. Lawrence Vaincourt

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Not probable, but possible...

The promotion list for E-8s is being sent out to sergeants major today. There's a chance Darrell might be on it. It hits full circulation next week, but usually someone with access starts spreading the word to the lucky ones earlier than that.

Here's hopin'!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


On sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs

By LTC(RET) Dave Grossman, RANGER, Ph.D.,author of "On Killing."

Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? - William J. Bennett - in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997

One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.

Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms, and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.

But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."

Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?

Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.

There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. - Edmund Burke

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.

I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"

Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.

Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have and idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"

It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness, and horror when the wolf shows up.

Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear, helplessness, and horror at your moment of truth.

Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."

Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.

And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes.

If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...


This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.

Friday, September 19, 2008

First RUNNING five miler

I completed my first five mile RUN today. Not my first ever, just my first after starting up the running thing again.

I'm enjoying the Nike + iPod thing so far. I like not having to keep track of laps in my head.

ETA: Ok, that graph is totally wrong. Odd. I ran five miles at a remarkably even pace (about 9:35/mi) and then walked a quarter mile cooldown. Very odd. It shows up right on the Nike.com website. *shrug*

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Does anyone have the Nike+iPod system? Darrell got all the pieces for me for my birthday this year. I've needed the motivation. This is my first run in quite awhile. I wasn't moving fast, but I was moving... Not too bad for a first-back workout.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Or you could just wave your hands madly as fast as they will go.

That's just as much fun. :)

It's the geek in me.

I, too, love stuff like this.

A link at the bottom led me to some fun with chocolate and marshmallows. Would have liked to have found the original linked article, though. I'm SO doing that in the spring when I'm student teaching 8th grade physics!

Oooh, and this! Science is so cool.

It's better than Oz!

If you say "Kansas" to just about any American, the first thing that probably pops into his or her head is The Wizard Of Oz. Or corn. Or wheat. Or flat and boring.

But Kansas has a much more interesting claim to fame. Pluto!

Most planets don't have an official discoverer. They are easily visible and while they weren't correctly identified as planets until long after they were first seen, there is no one person listed in the history books as the person who discovered them. The orbits of Uranus (William Herschel, 1781) and Neptune (Johann Gottfried Galle and Louis d'Arrest, 1846) led astronomers to believe that there was still yet another planet out there to be found, and Dr. V. M. Slipher, director of the Lowell Observatory, hired Clyde Tombaugh to find it.

Tombaugh was only 22 years old and had already built a series of telescopes, each more powerful than the previous, in order to make detailed drawings of Mars and Jupiter. He sent them to the Lowell Observatory and was hired soon after, in January 1929. How he found it is an amazing display of patience and attention to detail:

Each night, when the weather was clear and the Moon was not shining, Tombaugh placed a photographic plate, 14 by 17 inches in size, at the focal point of the 13 inch telescope. The plate had to be held firmly in place by screws, so that it would not shift during its three-hour exposure. It also had to be held at an extremely precise curvature, to an accuracy within half a millimeter, so that the entire large plate would be in focus. Tombaugh would then point the telescope at a precise region of the sky, and make sure that the telescope would rotate slowly throughout its exposure time to compensate for the Earth’s own rotation. After three hours he would remove the plate, replace it with a new one, and point the telescope to a new sliver of sky, adjacent to the previous one. Every few days he would retrace his steps, and record images of the same region he had taken previously. As a result, he possessed at least two plates of each observed section of the sky, taken several days apart. The entire procedure was conducted nearly every night in an unheated dome, often in sub-zero temperatures.

The sequence in which Tombaugh chose to survey the sky was not random. Always he insisted on observing only those regions that were in “opposition” – i.e. directly opposite from the Sun. Since the Earth takes a full year to complete its orbit around the Sun, it would therefore take a year to complete a full survey of a band of the sky. The reason for this choice was that Tombaugh was looking for an object, Planet X, that would exhibit “retrograde motion” – the apparent motion of a planet or asteroid “backwards,” or east to west instead of west to east. For the outer planets, those outside the Earth’s orbit, this occurs when the Earth races by them, leaving them behind and creating the illusion that they are moving backwards. This only happens when the Earth is between the retrograding planet and the Sun, i.e. when from the perspective of an observer on Earth the planet is in opposition. Detecting an object in retrograde motion immediately indicates to an observer that the object is relatively close-by, probably within the Solar System. The stars are so distant that they hardly show any shift in position (or “parallax”) at all due to the Earth’s annual orbit, and their minute shift can only be detected through careful measurement by specialized instruments.


Over time he accumulated an impressive set of photographic plates, two each for each region of the sky. But as the plates multiplied, still no work was being done on scanning them carefully in search of an elusive planet. That would involve mounting the plates two at a time on the old blink comparator and going over them, tiny sliver by tiny sliver, with the centrally mounted microscope. Tombaugh could not help but wonder: “who would blink these plates?”

The answer came in June: Tombaugh, who had been hired specifically to conduct the telescopic survey, would now be responsible for the blinking as well. The Lowell Observatory’s entire search for Planet X was now in the hands of a 23 year old with a high school education, who six months before was working on his family’s farm. Once he got over his initial surprise, Tombaugh began filling his days and nights not occupied with observing with hours upon hours of “blinking.”

Blinking was a tough job that was at the same time extremely tedious and requiring exquisite concentration. Tombaugh set about it with his usual systematic approach. After half an hour of blinking he would take a short break, and after another half hour he would walk away from the comparator for at least 15 minutes. “I knew I dare not overdo it or my attention would lapse and I could miss something” he recalled years later. “This haunted me all the time.”

As the months went by Tombaugh became an expert blinker, working at the comparator for nine hours a day when he was not occupied with the observations themselves. He found numerous objects moving in retrograde motion, but judging by their rate of motion they were too close to the Earth to be Planet X candidates, and Tombaugh concluded that they were asteroids. Inch by inch, star by star, Tombaugh would scan the plates. By January 1930, by his own estimate, he had already scanned a million and a half(!) stars, and still - no result. (Source)

It's been estimated that Tombaugh spent 7000 hours hunched over the blink comparator until February 18th, 1930, searching those plates a star at a time. Do you see it? Can YOU see the one tiny speck of light that changed position?

There it is.


(There's a fun side story about how Pluto was named, if you're interested.)

In 1978, Pluto's first moon was found by James Christy because of images like this. The blob in the middle isn't quite spherical. The bulge wobbled around the planet in subsequent images. The moon was called Charon.

It wasn't until very recently, May 2005, that the moon count for Pluto changed when Hubble imaged Hydra and Nix. It is thought by some that Pluto may have more moons, or even rings, still yet to be found.

That will change soon, however, as the New Horizons mission is on its way to Pluto. It was launched in January 2006 and will arrive in July 2015.

Regardless of how Pluto is classified, Kansans in the know will always be able to say we found it first. And trust me, traveling from here and hearing joke after joke about Oz, we're happy to have something else to brag about.

Read more about Pluto with Bill's Plutopia blog carnival.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Spreading the word

If you haven't discovered This is True yet, please check it out.

The owner of the listserv is having major problems with Yahoo email addresses and has just lost over 10% of his readership, which has led to an accompanying drop in revenue. He's asking for his readers to spread the word.

Thus, here I am. Please, check it out. If you like it, subscribe to the weekly email. If you really like it, please spread the word to your friends.

I've been reading for years, and a few months ago finally spent the $24 to go premium.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

One of my favorite geoblog posts ever...

From here. A snippet:

Volcanoes were here before we snotty, ungrateful hydrocarbons metamorphosed from the goo, and volcanoes will be here after we're gone. They're not always perfect, but they work their calderas off to provide us with a hospitable surface environment. Punk metazoans oughta show a little more respect.

Pay special attention to the comments.

Then check out the response and it's comments. Oh, what fun!

And another.

And the post that started my geoblog reading in the first place? Here. And well worth the time to click on it. Again, pay attention to the comments.

And for my physics/astronomy-loving readers, enjoy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We're moving!

We thought the army would leave us here for awhile. We were wrong. Darrell will soon be receiving orders to Colorado. His report date is a month or so after he comes home, but it's in the middle of the academic year. I'll be doing my student teaching, so the boys and I will stay here while he heads out to the next place.

We're pretty excited. I miss the mountains! I'll be on the lookout for a teaching job, preferably at the college/university level but also middle/high schools in the area.

And the best part? My best friend is moving there this week! So, while she's leaving me now, hopefully she can save me a house next door to move into in about ten months.

Friday, June 27, 2008

This was intriguing

I surprised myself by doing better on this than I thought. An 88.9%. My incorrect responses: 3 different, 1 same.


Adaptive tone test: 1.2 Hz

Rhythm test: 60.0%

Associative Musical Visual Intelligence test: 85% (84.1,88.0,73.5,81.7,91.0)

So, not bad on the tone stuff. Absolutely lousy on rhythm. Good thing I wasn't ever a drummer.

Thanks Chris.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Our little fish...

Justin passed his level one swimming class last week with flying colors. Level two started yesterday and he did so well that they asked if they could try him out in level three today. He did GREAT! They're going to leave him in level three! Not only did that save us about $40, but it was a huge boost to Justin's ego/morale. I'm thrilled, as I REALLY hope he likes swimming and wants to continue to take lessons. I'd be even more thrilled if he chooses later to be competitive.

It's just about the healthiest sport there is, is pretty low in cost compared to just about anything else, and he's got the perfect body type for it. He needs a 'thing' that he can feel confident in, and this may just be it. You should have SEEN his face when I told him that he impressed them so much today that they're going to have him totally skip over level two. So proud!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thanks Bill, for the idea.

This page of the blog. Not at ALL surprised that TIME is first. I hope the next few months show a different result.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Kaden's words

hi, bye, baby, uh-oh, mama, papa, eye, mouth, ear, nose, belly, hair, Mo (the cat), apple, banana, up, down, (sign) please, choo choo, ball, more, (sign) eat, (sign) more, hot!, all done, help, stuck, balloon (only he can't say the 'll's), monkey, drink, milk (only he calls all drinks milk, so he'll hand me his cup and say milk, but then gets mad if it's not juice I put in there), hot dog, green beans, truck (tuck), juice, cheek, elbow, brush, Elmo, dressed, shoes, duck, quack quack, trash, hat

So, 42 words/phrases so far, and pickin' up steam fast!

ETA: How did I forget Mine! and NO! ???

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Not going to tag anyone, play if you want...

The rules: The player answers all questions. The player then chooses six people you want to know more about and tags those people by listing their names at the end of the post and going to their blog and leaving a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Also, you let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer. [But I'm not going to follow these, play along if you want. Or not.]

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
I'd recently moved to Fort Hood, my first permanent party duty station. Little did I know that in just a few short months, I'd meet my future husband.

2) What are five things on my to-do list today (not in any particular order)
Dishes, laundry, lesson planning, errands, and thesis work.

3) What snacks do I enjoy
Fruit, chocolate shakes, dry roasted peanuts, ranch dip with chips or veggies.

4) What are some places I've lived?
In order: California, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Missouri, Georgia, Arizona, Bosnia, Kansas, and South Carolina. Repeats all over the place.

5) What things would I do if I were a billionaire?
After planning for my extended family's financial future, I'd start to give the rest away. I'd love to plunk down thousand dollar tips when we go out to eat. Buy someone a new car who really needs it. Fix up some schools. Replace worn playground equipment. Lots of little things like that. Gosh, what fun that would be!!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The fastest two weeks ever...

Darrell's R&R has come and gone. So, it's back to "normal" around here.

Justin's done for the school year. His summer is BOOKED - just finished a week at Cub Scout day came. Next up, mornings at a summer school program and afternoons at the zoo.

Kaden's second birthday party was low key and fun. We had Sam & The Gang over for munchies and cake. Kaden's favorite part? The balloons.

I'm working on my motivation level to start seriously moving on my thesis. Luckily, my advisor needs me to look over my data and come up with some basic thoughts. That, hopefully, will get me going.

I'm also itching to start running again. I had some minor surgery in mid-May and can't do much for another month or so. I knew it was coming, so I wasn't too upset with leaving my training behind earlier this year. But, strangely, I miss it. I'm thinking of finding a half marathon to sign up for. The 10K was fun, but the distance wasn't very challenging. I'm not yet in it for time, I'm wanting to work towards distance. The next six months are so are plenty open for lots of training. I'll never get a better opportunity. So, sounds like I need to find a race in late November or December.

After a quick Google, I found one:

Gobbler Grind Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K - Overland Park, KS - November 18th, 2007 (I'm going to assume they'll hold it again on a similar date...)

I should be up and running by mid-June, or late-June at the latest. That leaves me four and a half months to get back into shape. Definitely doable.

I'd love to find out more about the course...

Monday, May 26, 2008

I've been having some bizarre dreams lately.

1) Apparently I'm doing something in the business field. I show up to work and at the last minute, I'm asked to re-give a presentation. No problem! Someone even sets it up so that I can use my PalmPilot instead of the laptop - and wirelessly (not sure if that even is possible, and I don't even have a PalmPilot any more, but hey, it's a dream... ) I go to give the presentation, and all the people in the room are the same people that heard it the first time. So, I'm being all casual about it, but then things start getting weird. The PowerPoint isn't right. And the books people were given to follow along aren't right. And then I find that there's an auditorium FILLED with people that are listening to me give this presentation. Very professionally dressed people who are attending as part of a conference, and they're lost trying to follow along in this book (that isn't right) and my slides aren't right, and now I can't figure out how to cancel the whole thing, and who set me up for this??!!? And then I wake up. And spend the next half-hour trying to figure out how to professionally apologize for someone setting me up for failure without blaming anyone.

2) I'm a new teacher the day school starts. I'm in my classroom, thinkin' I'm on top of everything, when someone reminds me to check my mailbox in some office I didn't know about (that weirdly is attached to the cafeteria ). So, I get there and see the mailbox and can't figure out where mine is. Turns out it's arranged by the last three numbers of your social security number (in the dream, the last three weren't really my last three - I find that really funny for some reason), but stuck together in a box with others that have the same 4th-to-last digit. Oh. How silly of me to not understand that. And then it turns out there's a CRAPLOAD of stuff in there, paperwork galore that I have to take care of, and every time I get distracted in the pile and then look again at the box, there's even MORE stuff in there. And then I woke up.

I guess I'm a little more nervous about this whole student teaching thing than I realize?

Memorial Day

I'll never understand "Happy Memorial Day!" wishes.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Too long...

It's been way too long since I've updated here. My apologies. I know I don't have very many readers and I'm likely losing the few I DO have unless you have me on a feed reader. I'm finding it difficult to decide how much of what's going on I want the world to know about, and in response, I've decided by not deciding, and thus not posting.

Anyway, my semester from hell is OVER!! While it wasn't more than I could handle, it was about as much as I could handle. About two weeks left of the semester, I was sweating pretty hard, having to plan out every spare bit of time I had in order to get everything done. And it all did get done, so it worked. But I certainly don't want to do anything like that again.

Next semester should be much easier. I will have the same teaching load, but it'll be easier because I won't have to prep so much. I'll have a MUCH smaller class load, as I'm only taking one scheduled class and another appointment class. Plus, I don't have any education classes, which means no time spent in any other classrooms or working on massive lesson planning projects.

My intention is to work on my thesis this summer and defend early in the fall. Best case scenario puts me defending in early September. Both boys will be busy with summer activities, leaving me plenty of alone time to get it all done. I have all of my data, just need to analyze it all and figure out what it all means. I am teaching one class this summer, but only in June, and only for two hours a day. Plenty of time left for number crunching or library research.

The boys are doing great. I have a bunch of new pictures I need to upload. I should get to that today or tomorrow. Kaden is learning new words (thank goodness!) and Justin is almost done with 2nd grade (already?!)

Darrell is super busy, but things have settled down into a routine, so he is pretty happy with the way things are going.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I did it!!

Woo!! I ran my first 10k today!

Race report:

It was COLD, 36 degrees with about 10mph winds the whole time from the north. I handed the kids over to Sam at about 1 (race start time 1:15) and jogged around a bit to warm up. I decided to ditch the outermost layer and iPod. Once I got to the start line, though, I saw a LOT of people with music players. Oh well... I would have preferred to have it, but I survived. Some people had a thousand layers on, others were in shorts and t-shirts. I was perfectly dressed. I had on a tank top, short sleeve shirt, and long sleeve shirt. I was chilly at the start line, but warmed up in no time. My hands were a bit cold, but I just pulled my sleeves down over them. By about mile four, I stuck my hands back out again. Still a little chilly, but not too bad.

The start was pretty chaotic. I didn't have a watch, but I figured there weren't too many people, so I was only a few seconds behind the line and the splits and finish time would be close enough. It's not like I was going for any records or anything. My goal was to finish without walking. Justin told me he just hoped I didn't come in last. Gee, thanks buddy. Hahaha.

I settled into my own rhythm. It's a smallish race, so there weren't too many problems with congestion, even in the beginning. A few easy hills during the first mile, nothing too bad. I passed the 1st mile marker at 10:05!! I was thrilled, as I'd really hoped to finish in about an hour. I was right on pace!! With the hills, the wind, the fact that I was running OUTSIDE for the first time in YEARS, and the fact that I hadn't run more than two miles in over a month, and I was only a few seconds past my intended pace, I was psyched!!

The 2nd mile had a long slow uphill burn, RIGHT into the wind. Gah, this was my least favorite mile due to the conditions, but had a nice downhill towards the end. Passed the 2nd mile marker at 20:20. Again, just a bit off pace!

The 3rd mile had the turn around point, so the wind was at my back, finally. Unfortunately, that nice downhill turned into a wicked uphill. My left arch was niggling for a bit, but not badly. Then my right knee complained for a bit, but not for long. My breathing was a little off my normal training breathing, but hey, I did all my training in the gym, in the warmth, and on a perfectly flat track. I was pretty okay with how I was feeling overall. Passed the 3rd mile marker at 30:30!!

The 4th mile seemed to be a breeze. There were some ups and downs, but nothing major, and the wind was still at my back. Passed the 4th mile marker at 40:45. I couldn't believe how consistently I was running.

The 5th mile had a lot more turns and hills, going through campus. It's a bummer that it's spring break. It would have been cool to have more students cheering us all on. As it was, the course was pretty deserted. I could tell I was starting to get a little tired, but still had plenty of juice in the tank. Passed the 5th mile marker, but there was no one there calling out times! I couldn't believe it!!

The 6th mile was tough. There was a pretty decent uphill and I was starting to really struggle. Luckily, there were some downhills that I used to catch up a bit on time. This mile was mainly around City Park, so we were running mostly on dirt sidewalks. Lots of puddles due to the rain last night. It gave me something to pay attention to other than my breathing. About the last quarter mile, I REALLY wanted to walk, but I talked myself out of it because I knew it was mental. I wasn't hurting, my breathing was just fine, and although I was getting tired, I knew I could make it the rest of the way. I pushed through it. Passed the 6th mile marker at 61:24.

Only two tenths to go! I saw Sam and the crew just short of the finish line. Sam took a picture on her camera (I'll be sure to share it when I get it) about 50 feet before the finish. I was SO tired by this point. I usually like to sprint to the end, but I had nothing left. Three or four people passed me, but oh well. I wasn't in it for a specific placement, so I didn't much care. I finished just at 1:04:00!!

I am SO proud of myself. I'd really hoped to finish in an hour, but that's the best I've ever done in training, and that was about six weeks ago. I haven't had much time to work out in the last month, and mostly I've just done yoga. Not much running at all. And like I said, this was my first outside run in YEARS. It was super cold. And the course was not at all as flat as I thought it was. And I only finished four minutes off my dream finish time.

I'll definitely do it again. I like the distance. A half-marathon seems so intimidating, mainly because I just don't have the time for the long training runs. But a 10k? Six miles? Sure, piece 'o cake.

Friday, March 14, 2008


I've been so bad at updating this. Anyone still reading? (Was anyone reading in the first place?)

Anyway, I'm running my first official race tomorrow. I'm excited! However, the weather report is dismal. Luckily, the race doesn't start until after noon, as there's a chance of snow in the morning. By race time, that chance seems to be gone, but the temperature is still expected to only feel like 37 degrees.

*sigh* I thought I left the cold runs behind me when I got out of the army.

Still, I've signed up for this thing, so I'm going to do it, rain or shine. On the bright side, I figure I can blame my lousy time on the weather. (Yeah, the fact that I haven't really run in a MONTH might have something to do with that as well...)

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Some people...

My best friend works at a bank. Yesterday, she was working the drive up tubes and a lady pulled in to make a deposit. She'd noticed the flag was at half-mast and off-handedly asked my friend about it. "A Kansas Soldier died," my friend answered.

"Oh, is that all?" the lady replied.

Are you kidding me??

Saturday, March 01, 2008

New email from Darrell

With a photo!!

I had to Photochop the background out. Not sure why he's standing in front of the white board, but there was all kinds of stuff on there that doesn't need to be out on the 'net.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Not much going on to write about...

Days are flying by. Not much significant to write about here, so I haven't. Figured it was time for an update.

Darrell has been gone for over a month now. He's been able to send very short, almost daily emails. I'll take it. I haven't gotten a call since he got to his final duty location, so I have no idea how often he'll be able to use a phone. I DO have an address, so email me if you'd like it and I'll pass it on.

I've been incredibly busy at work/school. The flu is making its rounds through the student population, and I've had to schedule make-up sessions like mad to keep all of my students caught up. So far, I'VE managed to avoid it all personally. The department is doing interviews right now, for two tenure-track positions. Lots of pizza lunches and afternoon seminars to attend - we're interviewing six and are only one into it all so far. Because of this, my thesis proposal 'deadline' has been pushed off to early March. I REALLY need to get that thing done!

Justin is sick, but thankfully it's not the flu. Went to the ER this morning (he always gets sick on the weekends...) to rule out strep throat and an ear infection. While he doesn't have either of those, he DOES have a very sore throat. Dinner was a chocolate shake tonight. *laugh*

Kaden is also sick, but thankfully it's not the flue. Went to the ER this morning to rule out the flu. The doctor did a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. While he said there WAS a little cloudiness, it's not pneumonia. He's had an on-and-off fever, runny nose, doesn't really want to eat, and a yucky sounding cough, but is in remarkable spirits considering.

The cats are okay. Probably need to take the new one to the vet to get checked out. She stinks more than she should and has an odd dry skin patch on one of her ears. She's getting along just fine with Cammi now, thank goodness. I'm still not sure if Cammi likes having a companion, but she'll have to deal. They do spend quite a bit of time playing together, so I'm guessing she's mostly okay with it.

We've made the decision to move in July. My best friend's family got orders elsewhere, so we'll be moving into her house. The timing worked out too perfectly to ignore the possibility. It's a win-win. We don't have to worry about renewing a lease, and she gets renters she can count on. I'm guessing they'll probably try to sell the house when it's time for us to move out of it, but I'm hoping that by then, the housing market here in town will be a better time to sell. And even if not, they'll have a few more years of equity in the house. Plus whatever tax ramifications they get while renting it out.

Speaking of taxes, all I need left to file ours is our daycare provider's social security number. I feel uncomfortable asking for it, but we need it. We CAN file without it, but it's much more of a pain and we can't e-file that way. I can understand her reluctance to give it out, but at the same time, she could have applied for an EIN or whatever the alternative is called. I just need to bite the bullet and insist. No fun for either of us.

It's raining right now. At some point, it's going to change over to snow. I want spring. This is getting old...

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ok Sam, but only because it's you...

I've been tagged. Once you've been 'tagged', you're supposed to write a blog of 10 weird/random facts/habits/goals about yourself. I will NOT be tagging anyone else, but if you're interested, go for it...

1 - I'm about to fulfill my first major fitness goal. I will be running an official 10k race in March. I hope to break an hour. I know I can run that long/fast indoors, but outdoors will be another thing entirely.

2 - My bedroom is a disaster, so I have a hard time telling my son to clean HIS room. One of these days, I'll get mine straightened up, but I know it won't be any time soon.

3 - I need to have my masters thesis defended in less than eleven months and I haven't even started it yet. I should be defending the proposal in about two weeks. I guess I need to get started, huh?

4 - I'm seriously considering continuing on to earn a doctorate. Pretty crazy, considering what I wrote for #3.

5 - I'm really interested in personal finance lately. We have a pretty good plan to get out of debt in the relatively near future, and I'm excited about the concept of actually putting money into our future instead of our past.

6 - I am extremely annoyed by some people's lack of personal responsibility. Few things get me fired up like this does.

7 - I can't decide who to vote for. Heck, I can't even decide which PARTY I feel more comfortable with. If it's McCain vs Obama, I'm not at all sure which way to go. On that note, I suppose I should register to vote, eh?

8 - My dream car is an old VW Bug with each body panel painted a different color. Red trunk. Blue hood. Orange door. Yellow fender. You get the idea.

9 - I'm not at all worried about my family making it through this economic situation the country has found itself in. I'm still in school, but once I'm finished, I know I'll find a job (I'll be a science teacher). My husband is over halfway through an army career. We bring in plenty of money to live comfortably, although definitely not luxuriously. We don't have gobs of money in the stock market (although I wish I had a bunch to PUT in the stock market these days), nor do we own a home to worry about selling.

10 - My sports team preferences are all over the place. I'm a 49er and SF Giants fan (grew up in central California). I couldn't care less about professional basketball. I'm definitely a Philadelphia Flyers fan (went to high school outside of Philly). I love college hockey (Go RPI Engineers!) And I suppose I ought to root for my current university (who just beat the crap out of KU! Woo!) in men's and women's college basketball. I also love tennis and golf (if Tiger's involved), used to watch the Tour de France religiously when Lance was racing, enjoy the World's Strongest Man competition, and try to fit in some of the Olympics when they come around. Other than those teams mentioned, I root more for individual players and/or coaches. Brett Favre, Bill Cowher, Emmitt Smith (yes, I know he's retired), Mark Messier, and many more that I'm too tired to type out...

Ok, Sam. Done. :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Our 'old' TV isn't going to make it

What happened to those 'good old days' where electronics actually lasted a while?? I remember the big floor television from my growing up years - that thing lasted forever!

Darrell bought a TV around the time we got married. I think it was even BEFORE we got married. *laugh* So, about nine years ago. It's a Zenith, if I recall correctly. It's 27", a standard no-frills model.

The colors are all wonky. Usually when things start looking funny, I assume Kaden's been messing with the controls again. I've always been able to get it back to normal. This time, though, it's not working. The screen flashes, there are lines (both horizontal and vertical) across the screen, and the colors are all wonky. It's time for a new one.

There are too many options out there. I'm overwhelmed. Here's what we want:

- something that will survive a couple of moves (or not, see last post *ha!*)
- something that won't be obsolete over the next few years with the rapid changing technology
- something I don't have to mount on the wall, but has that option in case we end up buying our own place again
- something under $1000, although we'll go a little higher for quality

Darrell would like something 40" or larger; I'm thinking 37" is more than plenty considering the 27" set we have now works just fine. We're not planning to do anything super fancy with it, but who knows what we might want to do in the future. Our basic TV usage is kid's shows, sports games, and DVDs. Our living room is on the small side (which is why I'm leaning towards a smaller than 40" size - would it overwhelm the space?)

So, LCD or plasma? Or any of the other options out there? What brand? How big? *dizzy* Help a girl out here!!

Some crazy stuff going on

I wrote an email to my department head late last week. Essentially, I asked him for a job. Not now, as I won't be available until May 2009. The department has a plan to hire four new faculty members within the next couple years. If I'd waited until then to make my wishes known, the slim chance I have of getting a position at all would likely be long gone. So, I told him now that I'd love to work for the department as an instructor.

I also sent a copy of it to my major professor. I'd spoken with her about it briefly beforehand, of course.

The response was not what I expected. They're both urging me to get my PhD. Now, this is not something I've really wanted or planned to do, for the following reasons:

- I just want to teach
- I don't care about tenure (or do I? read below)
- I don't particularly like research, at least enough to devote MORE time to it on top of my thesis and dissertation
- Publishing is not important to me
- I just want to teach
- If I earned the doctorate, finding basic instructor positions would be next to impossible - why would they hire me? It's the classic overqualified business

By the time I'm done with what I'm doing, I'll be certified to teach middle and high school science (earth science and physics, definitely... might pick up biology as well). With the masters, I can also teach at the college/university level, at least the introductory classes which is what I love to teach. With these goals in mind, the doctorate isn't helpful. In fact, it's more of a hindrance. Why spend that much time and effort to earn something that doesn't get me any further in my plans?


It is very possible that we could retire where we are. Darrell is not that far from retiring, and by the time he's done with this deployment and transfers to a permanent position here, he'll have just enough time left to MAYBE have one more PCS, and even that would only be for a year or eighteen months. So, we could just stay here while he finished up somewhere else, if that's what happens. Now, that's if he only stays in for 20. We've discussed staying in for longer. I'm thinking by that point, he'll be at a rank where he can have more control over his assignments. (Not complete control, we are realists after all and know how the Army works...) Perhaps he could finagle another assignment here rather than PCS somewhere else.

Ok, so then should I work towards the PhD here? Or at least get the coursework done and work on the dissertation later? (Although that's definitely the harder way to do it, but it's been done many a time before.) My department head told me that it'd be easier to hire me on as an instructor if I had the intention to complete the PhD. Then they could complete whatever hiring paperwork is necessary to move me from the instructor position into a tenure-track position. If we end up staying here, I'd absolutely go after tenure. It'd be silly not to.

But do I WANT all that? Hard to say. And for now, it's a moot point anyway. I haven't even started the thesis yet!

I will probably make an appointment to speak with the man who I'd work with if I do it. I'm one of those people that like to know all the options. Maybe it'd make more sense, if I chose to pursue the PhD, to skip the masters and go straight for the doctorate. I'm not sure if this field allows that, although I know geology does. The geology department does not offer a doctorate, although they do have a joint partnership with another school that does. I have no idea how long it's been since someone went that route, but it hasn't happened since I got here in 2002. So, it'd have to be a PhD in education. Do they LET you do that without any classroom experience? Of course I've taught for four years at the college level, and since that's where I intend to stay if all goes well, I'm hoping my experience teaching the labs will count.

Ahh, so much to think about. So, step one:

1) Make an appointment - learn the options
2) Talk it over with Darrell
3) Think about it
4) Think about it
5) Think about it
6) ... at some point, make a decision

Any advice for me? I'm open to just about anything you have to say. All three of you regular readers. :)

I hope I remember this one...

I read something cool today. I hope I remember this one when it'll come in handy. I do quite a bit of copy/pasting between Office programs.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Serious things to think about...

It's been quite awhile since Katrina. But this brings up points that are valid in any situation. Good reading. Lots to think about.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Way before Christ. Way.

A slightly older take on it...



Watch this. It'll cure what ails ya.

Proudly introducing the newest member of our family, Mo! ('Cause she's desert colored, see. Mo(jave)). :)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

People just walked by!

Joshua Bell, an amazingly talented violinist, sets up shop in a Washington D.C. metro station and plays for about 45 minutes. And people just walked by!