Wednesday, September 30, 2009

California is burning again...

Only this time, it's right near where I work:

This was taken from my building near the Lompoc Gate exit when it was still "small" (only 150 acres, I believe, at the time). I guess it started around 11:30a. We had INSANELY strong winds today, and apparently either a power line got downed or a transformer exploded (I've heard both, not sure which is true) right near the middle school which happens to be right across from the Main Gate (the area around has been under road construction ALREADY for a month now) and the highway that connects the base to Santa Maria. Most parts of the base lost power around the same time that it started (because, of course, that was the day that I was going to stay on base and eat, so NATURALLY the power is out everywhere there is food for me or gas for the car). My building lost power around 1:00p (only four of us had gotten back from lunch at that point) and the DO and Chief came back and sent us home around 1:30p. The problem, of course, being that THE HIGHWAY TO SANTA MARIA IS CLOSED so I end up either having to drive all the way to Buellton on the nice safe highway and then take the 101 up or take the Harris Grade road which is closer and more direct, but has NASTY hairpin curves. As in the "you misjudge this by the slightest speck and suddenly have an enormously good chance of going flying off a cliff" type curves. And everybody and their brother from base or base housing or trying to get to their kids is on both roads. So needless to say, it was slow going.

The news media says it's 50% contained already, so I'm hoping I can at least get in to work tomorrow morning. I just really hope my building doesn't burn - we JUST finished painting it over the weekend!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Almost Adopted Again

While doing laundry last night, I was met quite deliberately at the bottom of the stairs by a small light grey feline. We (unfortunately) have several stray cats around the neighborhood, so I didn't really think anything of it and expected it to run as soon as it realized I was present. Instead, it followed me all the way to the laundry room AND back, rubbing against my legs and purring and demanding to be petted. Clearly not a usual stray. When we got up to the landing by my door, I could see that she (had some calico to her, so 99% sure about the sex) was older than "kitten" but not quite full-grown. I'd guess less than 9 months old, but that could depend on how long she'd been out on the street. I sat and petted her for a bit, and then (of course, because I'm a sucker) got a small bowl of cat food and one of the ratty old towels that pass for kitty blankets around here and set them outside for her. She tried to follow me directly into the apartment (which was NOT met kindly, judging by Teddie's sudden transformation into a three-foot round, hissing, spitting, growling furball - who knew he had it in him?!) but I was able to get her back outside again. (Teddie spent the rest of the night guarding the front door.)

I was in a hurry this morning and didn't think about the dish or blanket outside until I got two voicemails from my landlady, whom I had asked to drop off some paperwork. (I don't get phone reception in my work building, they just show up as voicemail.) The first was "Hey, I dropped off your paperwork like you asked. I noticed you have food and a blanket outside your door, did you lose your cat? Let us know - we don't really want food out to encourage all the strays around here, but we'd be happy to help you find your kitty."

The second was "I just called you five seconds ago, but wanted to let you know your kitty came home. I saw her earlier today and didn't realize she was yours, but she was sitting outside your door and crying, so I went ahead and let her in."

Um. Problem. Oh dear.

Luckily, it was already about 3:30p and Recruiter and I were just getting to the "we might just sit around and twiddle our thumbs because it's 3:30p on a Monday" point, so I raced home with visions of everything from carpets covered in fur and cat urine to (optimistically) a pair of cuddled up kitties to (pragmatically) two fight-injured felines and an expensive trip to the vet. I walk in the door and immediately start calling Teddie. I can hear him grumbling under the bed from the living room. I then notice a light grey blob on the couch. She was curled up, comfy as you please, right on top of my couch. She woke up when I came over to her, stretched as if she owned the place, and then came straight over to me like "Oh good! You're finally home! You may pet me now!" She's clearly fine, so I continued on my quest to find MY cat. He has evaporated into a pair of glowing green eyes in the farthest corner he can get to under the bed and is still grumbling and hissing any time she gets anywhere near, and of course, she's doing the "Oo, what are we looking at?!" routine.

I finally got her corralled into the old cat carrier and drag Teddie out from under the bed and check him over. He seems to be fine, although I think his pride is a bit wounded from getting caught hiding from a girl. He streaks back into another of his hideyholes the second I let him go, so now what to do with her? She's clearly used to being fussed over, and living indoors, ergo she probably has an owner. I am in NO position to form any kind of attachment, seeing as I leave two weeks from tomorrow and am having trouble finding someone to take care of the cat I already have. I don't have the space or time right now to properly introduce two cats to each other, not to mention the fact that I have no idea what the true health of the female actually is, so I didn't really want her around Teddie. (Even if she only had fleas, that would drive me nuts!)

I ended up taking her to the SB County Animal Shelter over on Foster Road. I hated to do it, but I needed to make sure she was both taken care of and healthy without paying vet bills, and I was really really hoping her owner had microchipped her and could be found and contacted. She is a sweet, sweet kitty, very beautiful (very light grey with flecks of orange throughout her coat and white mittens), and clearly intelligent enough to sniff out a sucker for cats. I'm going to put up fliers in the laundry room and mail areas of both apartment complexes and hope that her owner sees them. I explained my situation to the personnel at the shelter, and if she is unclaimed by the time I get back from Basic, I said I would be willing to adopt her.

We'll see.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I'm trying to take advantage of what should be my last free weekend before I leave. (I have drill next weekend and my ASCI 601 final the next weekend and I should be leaving the Tuesday after that. I'm also helping with the women's self-defense seminar at the dojahng in a few hours today, too.) There's so much to get done on top of all my regular weekend chores. Setting up finances for while I'm gone is going to be my primary goal. The nice thing is that I don't have to pack anything up, just make sure things are neat and clean and paid for. Still not completely sure what I'm going to do with Teddie - one of my PCPA friends had said she would take him, but this is their off-week between the end of the summer season and the start of the fall, so she's been out of town. I'm going to try to talk to her this coming week. I would really really prefer someone stay at the apartment with him rather than having him go through the stress of moving back and forth, but it is what it is, I guess.

To answer what a lot of people have asked me - Yes. Of course I'm a little scared. It's Basic Training, not summer camp. I'm a loner and I'm going to be forced to live with 50 other girls and no privacy for two months straight. I get frustrated when I don't know everything going into a class (yeah yeah), and now I'll have people yelling at me on top of that. I'm going to be older than probably 97% of my training flight. I want to reflect well on all the training I've had so far, both the informal military training I've gotten just from working with the units on base and the physical training and mental discipline I've gotten from martial arts. I definitely want the 216th to know I was worth it and will be worth it.

However, on the flip side of that, I also know that thousands of people before me have survived BMT just fine. I'm in pretty good shape and I already know what it feels like to be pushed past my limits. I have an extremely flexible comfort zone, it's not my first time living away from friends and family (in fact, some aspects of that should be easier, like no cooking!), I'm smart, and despite realizing that everyone's experiences there are different, I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. And, frankly, having met a lot of people who have been through BMT...well, if they can do it, I know I can, too. I'm not looking forward to it, by any means. I know it will be hard, maybe the hardest two months of my life, but eyes on the prize.

I want to earn the rank I've been claiming since January. I want to earn my stripes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Really quickly, because I'm getting ready to head to FIGHT but I wanted to update y'all.

As of about 12:15p today, I am officially in the 216 Operational Support Squadron (still as an A1C, and still with several people scratching their heads about it, but we have a plan, it's all good). Before the ink was even dry (and I'm not sure that it all is quite now, there's a lot of signing and sending), they had me scheduled for Basic.

I leave three weeks from today.

My apartment's good (although if someone needs a place for the time I'm gone, I'm totally willing to negotiate), I'm getting a housing allowance that will more than cover my rent while I'm gone, but...anyone want to cuddle a kitty for me for two months?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Almost there

1. Arm still hurts. It got jacked up again in class on Tuesday (the untrained are ALWAYS the most dangerous), hurt bad enough that I didn't go to class at all on Wednesday, and I only did kickboxing tonight. Blargh. (If Sir had been there tonight, I would have stayed, because it would have meant more grappling - which might have finally clicked for me - and less disarming and stretching of the arm, but he's gone for a few days and while normally I would not have any problems at all with Mr. R, the arm really couldn't have handled more PT tonight.)

2. Going hiking with some people from the 148th up near SLO tomorrow night. Should be interesting.

3. Have to talk to the commander tomorrow. New rumours say that all officer slots are filled with fully qualified people, but he'll still let me come to the 216th as enlisted (they are more than willing to get me trained ASAP and don't have a million schools dragging them down). Gotta find out what's going on with that. I wonder if they have any traditional officer slots available, if everyone is moving to full-time. I'd still be in training, and therefore gainfully employed in view of lots of civilian contractors for several months. Either way, I can't really lose. I can't really say that the 216th is a step up, because it's not better, it just has a different mission, and neither unit is better than the other, but I'm really much more interested in the JSpOC than the MILSTARs. And I'm going to (respectfully, for rank and because I like the guy) make it clear that I AM going to be an officer, if not now, then eventually, so I hope he likes seeing my name come across his desk.

4. Fringe and Bones are both awesome.

5. Knitting is starting to become fun again. About the only thing I've really been working on with any degree of progress has been the Twizzle scarf, and it's about 85% done. I just picked the afghan back up the other day, though. And found a pattern that I was trying to make up last year. I'm really glad other people are smarter than me.

6. Shower and bed time. One more day of getting up early (15 days in a row, I'd like to point out), and then the weekend. Recruiter is off tomorrow, so I think I'll [s]see how much trouble I can get into[/s] finish up a project for the Lt and maybe not work nine hours again like I did today (starting the project for the Lt). Anyone know Excel REALLY REALLY well?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quick Explanation

There are a lot of reasons why cell phones are annoying, mostly dealing with when other people are using them or people complaining about how "tied" to them we are. Valid points, of course. But I gotta say, being able to spend three hours watching the game with your parents from 2500 miles away without it adding a cent more to my regular phone bill - that's pretty cool. (I am still disappointed about both Ohio State and Purdue losing VERY close games to Pac-10 teams, though.)

So, the possible new job. (Keep in mind, this is just past the "this is what everyone would LIKE to see happen" stage and nowhere near "this is actually happening" stage. We're more in the "okay, we all agree this is what we want, now how can we make it happen?" stage right now.) I told y'all that I applied for a full-time job with the 216 that happens to include a commission. Well, I got pulled aside on Wednesday by the DO (the director of operations, the unit's second in command) to get told that he'd been looking, and Human Resources would not forward my resume/application to them because they did not feel that I met the qualifications. Fair enough, and pretty much what I was expecting to hear anyway. However, he asked me to check in with him later in the week to "brainstorm some options" because he wasn't sure that the enlisted job I've been planning on going into was really what would be best for me or either of the units.

I didn't get a chance to talk to him on Thursday, but I got a call from Recruiter after work giving me a heads up that the DO REALLY wanted to talk to me again. Sure enough, Friday morning, I had an email from him asking me to drop by his office. What it pretty much boils down to is that no, I am not qualified for the position I had applied for, they can't make me fit into that position, and it would be bad form to steal an enlisted member from one unit to do the same job at another unit at the same base. BUT, they like me, they really feel like I SHOULD be an officer, they know me and have seen me working and learning, and they feel it wouldn't be stealing an enlisted so much as offering someone an advancement opportunity if I could come to the 216 as an officer.

To fix this, they're trying to create a different full-time officer slot for me at the 216th. They've all but talked the commander into it; we're just waiting for his blessing on however they rework the positions, which should be this week. Major (of the field trip post) strongly hinted yesterday that I had better get my application package for commission ready ASAP because "you never know when a slot will open up and you'd really want to be ready if the commander just happens to find one." Recruiter and I started gathering everything up this weekend and are going to finish getting things together this week. I'm a little concerned with my AFOQT scores and would really like to re-take it, but I have to get some more feedback on that first.

So for right now, as far as anyone is officially concerned, I am still enlisted in the 148th and still slotted for Basic in February. And, if this doesn't work out, that won't change, so it's not like I'm losing anything. The 148th had their family picnic day today at drill, and we had a lot of fun. They're good people, with a good mission. But I can't really turn down an opportunity to try for a commission, or a really cool job that puts me directly in lines of view of LOTS of contractors.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What We Do

That is seriously what the 216 OSS/614 AOC (our active duty sister unit) actually does. In fact, if the cards fall the way everyone is hoping, that will actually BE part of MY job! Of course, it's rarely that dramatic or holographic. I seriously doubt the JSpOC has background theme music, too. Of course, knowing some of the guys who work on the floor, well, let's just say it wouldn't surprise me. Details on the possible new job if/when it becomes official.

Btw, I actually think these "It isn't science fiction, it's what we do every day" commercials are kinda cool. I've only seen this one and the one with the Reaper (and, just FYI, the Guard flies those, too, out of Nellis), but they'd make me go "Wow, that's cool! Where do I sign up for that?!"

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Her Package Arrived!

My pal Mesanges over on Ravelry got her swap package today, so I feel comfortable in revealing some of my handiwork over the past couple weeks. Actually, it isn't much and didn't take very long, but I still like them. (Her pics on the thread are much better than mine, too!)

The poor girl's a Canadiens fan, so she got herself a new project bag:

that was filled with all sorts of small hockey/squirrel/swedish fish-related items (I'd never heard of Swedish Fish candy before this swap and now I see it everywhere!). Now you know why the teaser pic was from the top down into the bag - the stripe would have given it away! Btw, trying to find a Canadiens patch (which is what I really wanted to include) in this area of the world is a PAIN in the you know what (even sports memorabilia store owners looked at me like I'd sprouted a second head when I asked about hockey stuff, much less Habs). I knew my intarsia skills weren't good enough to try charting out the logo, and it would take too long to cross-stitch, so I was wracking my brain trying to think of what else I could do. I was wandering aimlessly in Michaels, trying to get some kind if inspiration, and landed in an aisle with those small plastic canvases of different shapes that kids use for needlepoint. Two packs of those and some stash yarn resulted in these:

Simple, fun, useable. (They're the sleeve stripes of the three teams she listed as her favorites. And a puck.) And now that I've remembered how to do needlepoint, I'm thinking I need some in old gold and black. And black, red, and white. And red, white, and blue. Hey, I could do a set for all of my teams. Hmm...

Anyway, I really had a lot of fun with this swap and I can't wait until the next one! (Although now I have to think of something NEW!)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Weekend Update

I got my package finished for my hockey swap buddy! Well, I'm actually still waiting on one piece, but I whipped up some things to make up for it yesterday so I could get it over to the post office today anyway. (The final piece will get mailed along once it finally arrives!) Here's a sneak peek:

I also got MY package from my buddy (the lovely MadameX on Ravelry) Wednesday. I think it's pretty obvious how friggin' amazing it is:

Two skeins of a yummy purple mohair/wool blend called Kokopelli, a box of chocolate caramels (I don't ask questions, I just enjoy!), a Chinese jade trinket (for luck), a bunch of handmade Blackhawks-colored stitch markers, a really pretty green notepad, some Villainess body cream and soap (which smells amazing!) and this:

A 121-year-old ghost story from Boston, complete with illustrations! The story is copied out of the May 9, 1888 New York Times and those are all hand-drawn (and mounted) pictures! How cool is that?! I got thoroughly spoiled and have really enjoyed doing the spoiling, as well! (More pics of what I am sending - because I'm pretty proud of the handmade items - will be up after I confirm that spoilee has received it. I don't want to ruin the whole surprise!)

Got a four-day weekend going because of the holiday. I was going to go down to LA, but after the way I reacted to the fire smoke up here, I don't really want to subject myself to that again. So I'm just putzing around the house watching college football instead (Minnesota's getting creamed by Syracuse and sadly, the Ohio State/Navy game is more interesting. I can't get the Purdue game, of course), maybe hanging out with some friends later tonight. I did invite that guy to lunch, but our schedules don't mesh for it (South Base is a bit of a drive from Main Base). We're meeting up after work on Friday instead.

Classes this week were kind of hard - we did a full class of aikido on Wednesday night instead of tkd, which made my elbow seriously cranky with all the joint locks, and then grappling in FIGHT on Thursday. I hate grappling. I understand the importance of it, I really do (being on the ground in a fight is the WORST place to be), but I am seriously not built to work on the ground, other bodies literally on top of me make me uncomfortable (I have a rather large personal space bubble, even though Sir almost always pairs up Ma'am and I for groundwork so we don't have to work with the guys) and it makes me feel like an awkward turtle. Which, of course, is why I need to work on it, but doesn't make me enjoy it any more. At least we got to knife spar both Tuesday AND Thursday this week, though!

Alright, gotta run to the grocery store, get a litter tray for the kitty, and mail off my swap package. Have a good and safe weekend!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Quick Questions (mostly rhetorical)

1.) Why is it that if people know you have a black belt, they automatically either think you're invincible/tough (and/or want you to "prove it") or at the very least should not be afraid of anything? I'm not bullet-proof or uninjurable, for heaven's sake.

2.) There's a guy in FIGHT I kind of like. I have his number, and we both work on base. I don't know if he's single or not, though. Invite him to lunch anyway? (Just as friends, of course - he works for a company that does launches and I'd be interested in just picking his brain even if he wasn't cute. Sadly, I've known him for a couple years now, so I can't play the complete idiot.)

3.) Why can't the postal service go faster? I'm still waiting on the last piece for my swap package that is supposed to go out by the end of the week.

4.) Why can't everyone just do their jobs the way they're supposed to? It would have saved us a trip down to Channel Islands on Monday if people would just do their friggin' paperwork and send it to the right people. I mean, I do realize it's the military and therefore any situation involving paperwork is going to get fubar'd quickly, but when even the military is complaining about it, ya gots youself a problem.

5.) Why can't Sept go a bit faster? Bones, NCIS, and Fringe all premiere in less than three weeks now!

6.) Why can't all midterms (and classes, for that matter) be as cool as the one I had this weekend? For that matter, why can't all jobs involve units that take "morale days" to go do their sworn duty to protect the golf courses on base, giving me a paid afternoon off?

and finally

7.) Why can't the cat friggin' earn his keep and at least pick up his own fur off the floor and furniture??

"Are you scared of the dark?
Are you afraid they'll break your heart?
Are you afraid you'll lose yourself?
Are you afraid of your own health?
Are you scared to lose?
Are you afraid to choose?
Are you afraid you'll win?
Are you scared of your own sin?
Are you scared to forgive?
Are you afraid to live?
Are you afraid to die?
Do you think you told a lie?

To live when you think you're dying?
To laugh when you feel like crying?
To stand when you think you're gonna fall?
It's just fear after all.
It's only fear after all.

Are you afraid you'll be alone?
Are you scared to pick up the phone?
Are you scared of the past?
Do you think that you might crash?
Do you think you're in too deep?
Are you afraid to sleep?
Are you scared there's no stability?
Are you afraid of your own fragility?

To live when you think you're dying?
To laugh when you feel like crying?
To stand when you think you're gonna fall?
It's just fear after all.
It's only fear after all.

To mend when you think you're breaking?
The strength when you know you're shaking?
To pray when your back's against the wall?
It's only fear after all
Are you scared of the end?
Are you scared to begin?
Are you scared of the start?
Do you think they'll break your heart?
Do you think they'll break your heart?

To live when you think you're dying?
To laugh when you feel like crying?
To stand when you think you're gonna fall?
It's just fear after all.
It's only fear after all.

It's only fear
The only fear is fear itself
The only fear is fear itself
The only fear is fear itself
It's only fear..."
-"Fear", Pauley Perrette/Stop Making Friends, NCIS Official Soundtrack