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Ner's Random Musings on a life of interesting insights

a world of interesting factoids about nothing and everything


August 4th, 2012

a short update @ 03:13 pm

The plan is to go to the beach this afternoon, but I'm not sure when. We don't have too much special planned besides that, but it's the last full day here, so I'm sure we'll make it count. After the beach, we're going to cook out (ribs and steaks), and then leave tomorrow morning a bit early. My father-in-law has not been feeling good lately as he's been dealing with a cold for a while, so we haven't been doing much today. We shall see.

I edited my last entry so taht maybe the picture should show from Twitter. Twitter has some weird photo linking I didn't know about, but i think I fixed it, so hopefully my photo showed this time. At least now, I know how it's done in the future.Should be nice to get back home though even though the drive will suck. It's been a really nice time here, epsecially since going to the beach isn't necessarily something I love to do.
 

August 3rd, 2012

the NER Crotch Sand Index and deer near the house @ 02:08 pm

I'm not sure what the plan is today, but we have done what, in my opinion, is the perfect vacation activity, slept in and veged out so far. I think we're planning on going to the beach later. Low tide is near 3:30 this afternoon, so that should give us plenty of time to get there.

This whole island is a gated community, complete with guard shack. Once you drive on, most people have golf carts on their property for transportation on and around the island. Dean (my father-in law)'s boss owns this house we're staying in. He has three golf carts, one of which sits six, and we used that one yesterday when we went to the beach. It takes about five minutes to drive the quarter mile to the beach and another five minutes to walk through the sand and over into the beach, so it's really quite easy to get to the beach. Like swimming in a pool though, at least for me, it takes a lot of energy, especially when you're carrying lots of other stuff. It's still fun though, and the beach is nice.

Before I talk about yesterday's beach experience, let me invent an index which I will cite while we're here. It's called the NER Crotch Sand IndexCollapse ).

At low tide, the beaches here are extremely wide. I think ti's an artifcat of the South Carolina barrier islands and beaches as I have heard that Myrtle Beach is similar. Not only are the beaches really side here, but they are very flat, and you can walk out really far, probably because all kinds of sand continues to build up to create these islands. Makes me wonder how they build anything on barrier islands. I know that this house is built on stilts, and they must go way down to secure the house to the land. Beyond that, I don't know.

The surf was very gentle yesterday. the NER Crotch Sand index was not even a 1. I did get some sand on my face, but that might have been because Julian threw a shovel-full in my face, jerk. the waters are oddly warm, and they don't lie when they say they're warm like bath water. True, they're not as warm as my bath water as I like hot baths, but they're definitely lukewarm, probably in the 80s. This is very different than the water in California or Alaska which are freezing. They got me a life jacket last night which isn't necessarily needed, but ti'll be nice not to have to worry about swells going over my head unexpectedly. I'll test it out today.

Last night, we spent most of the evening watching the deer that live on the island walk around. Fripp island is somewhat of a nature reserve, and the deer are protected. They terefore don't have much fear of humans or their habitations. There's plenty of vegetation for them to eat here, and there are strict rules not to feed the deer, but they still come around. I would bet that there are some deer that get fed by tourists or residents, judging by how close this deer came to the house. a picture of two deer taken off the porch through the trees. One deer's name is Elliot One of the dder that was here had a hurt leg and spent lots of time near the steps hoping we would pay attention to him. Apparently, he's been hanging around here for two years, and has been disabled for probably longer. He lives fine though, and he's in a good place. In the real wild, he'd probably not survive. It's definitely wild to have so many trees in the living areas with all of these animals, and then to transition to the beach. Very cool.

That's about all I can think to write about, that and I'm getting more long-winded than normal. More soon.
 

August 2nd, 2012

welcome to the jungle, for real. @ 10:42 am

Well, we made it, finally! Everyone's up right now, but we're not doing anything so I'm writing.

We got here last night, after several delays and fun times, at about 11:30. This was mostly because we stopped to get something to eat, had a GPS issue finding a gas station almost causing us to run out of said gas, and (c) it just is that far from our house in virginia to Fripp Island in South Carolina.

Before explaining the island, I have to write about adventures with a theoretically empty gas tankCollapse )

Now to the island. From how Holly has described things here, I wonder if i'll find a cave and meet some people who have been required to enter in a code every few hours. i don't think i'll get lost here thank goodness, but the jungley pines that are here sure could fool me. Pretty much everyone here drives down to the beach and around the island on golf carts. We haven't done this, but we followed a whole convoy of golf carts to the house last night from the beach. The plan is to go to said beach in a bit and check it out. My father-in-law says the beaches are wide and the surf is gentle, so I'll probably enjoy it without breaking an arm, something I did when I had a close up and personal experience with a boogie board off the outer banks of North Carolina.

Should be a fun-packed day, and I'll write about it later prvided Julian doesn't tire me out.
 

August 1st, 2012

precursor to travel @ 11:36 am

Well, we haven't left yet but it's in the works. We're planning on leaving within the hour which, provided we get there in 7 and a half hours (projected, we should be there by 8. We are going to a beach on an island in the southeastern part of South Carolina. John and my father-in-law are already there and they say it's nice, so we'll see. For now we have to cross most of North and South Carolina. Lucky for us, we don't have to traverse the long bits of those states but we're going from north to south. More when we get there.
 

July 30th, 2012

reading evenings and daily happenings @ 08:16 pm

I've got the vpn pretty much dialed in now, and don't get as many drop-outs and slow-downs as I got when I didn't have much of a clue and/or the network wasn't behaving properly. This is a good thing because I'm having some true fun playing around and listening to cool stuff around the world.

I cleared all of my work today, again, which is good in some ways because I've finished everything, but bad because I haven't figured out what I'll do tomorrow. I"m sure I'll get some work, but it could take some time. Lots to listen to olympicish, so I'm sure I'll figure out something to do should it take a while for work to appear.

Holly et al went to DC today and they apparently had a tough time. I don't know all the details, but they apparently did not time to do all of what they planned to do which was go to museums i.e. Smithsonian etc.

<lj-cut text="Scalzi Book Talk (What I'm reading lately)> I've been reading John Scalzi books lately. I've been meanng to read Scalzi, mostly because Wil Wheaton reads many of his audiobooks and I loved his reading of <u>Ready Player One</u>. I'm really enjoying them. Lots of crazy humor akin to some of my favorite authors--Terry Pratchett ec. With Scalzi, the concentration is more dealing with crazy space people and situations whereas Terry Pratchett seems to deal with overall craziness and mayhem with lots of humor mixed in. His (Scalzi's) books are shorter, but I don't mind. He seems to be teaching me the valuable lesson that longer is not necessarily better. Though I like maximizing my Audible subscription by buying long books for credits, I may buy more shorter books, and I definitely plan to flesh out my John Scalzi collection and buy the books that aren't available from NLS (National Library Service). </lj-cut> I guess I"m going to try to hit the show and then see how long I can stay awake to wait for the fam to get home. Tomorrow will be packing day and Wednesday will be travel day provided no one gets extra sick or hurt in the time being. We shall see.
 

July 28th, 2012

The Olympics play-by-play, and an upcoming trip @ 05:00 pm

I've been spending the past few days trying to find an alternate way to listen to some kind of realiable and accessible London Olympics stream. Unfortunately, most countries block their audio streams, and definitely their video streams thanks to rights issues. It's not necessarily legal I am sure, but I"m using a vpn service with points of presence in the UK and now, as I'm writing now, Australia. I'm not too saddened about doing this and here's why. Note, rant coming up.

Olympic play-by-play rant about accessibilityCollapse )

Holly's family is back. Her Dad is on vacation this week, and so John wanted to go to some DC museum, so they are here until Tuesday at which time they'll head to the South Carolina beaches. Holly's Dad's boss powns a house on an island near the beach, and he's letting them borrow the house for the weekend. I'm taking off a few days to follow. I usually don't enjoy the beach, but it should be fun hanging out with the family, and I'm looking forward to it. John talked about how they'd brought fishing poles, and if that's the case, I'm all about that!

Otherwise, not much else going on now. I haven't been sleeping as much as I would have liked lately, but that is pretty much par for the course for me lately. That being said, I think I'm going to take a nap pretty soon. Back to the Olympics.
 

July 17th, 2012

I win!!! @ 03:51 pm

Man it's hot out there today. So hot in fact that they issued a heat advisory this afternoon.

I came home after lunch so that we could make a deposit at the bank. I had an email from teh contracting officer from the pool as follows.

Good Afternoon Mr. Romey. My name is ??????. One of my responsibilities is to oversee our pool here at ??????. I would like to apologize for the incident that happened on July 12th. Upon further investigation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we found out that it is acceptable for your dog to accompany you inside the pool area.


Score! I shouldn't be happy because this is the outcome that I expected, but it does make me feel good to help educate the workforce. I got a call from him shortly after receiving the email. I missed his call, but I'm sure I'll talk to him tomorrow. I think he was calling from the pool to tell me that all staff was made aware that I could go to the pool deck with Velvet, unhindered. Again, Score for guid dogs!

P.S. More blind people inprocessed into our center yesterday as interns. They don't work in mya rea, but some use JAWS so I will probably get an opportunity to help them later on, especially with the accessibility concerns we have with some of the systems that we use.
 

July 16th, 2012

Manmade, natural, and more manmade pools, waterfalls, and geysers @ 05:46 pm

I woke up this morning before my alarm, and decided to start work at 6 so I could get off at 2:30 this afternoon. The consequence of this was that I was really tired when I got done and took a short nap. I'm ok now, but I haven't been sleeping well lately, so I'll probably go to bed at a reasonable hour.

I heard from EEO today and she emailed the people who run the pool. The top person, not the contracting officer, and she agreed that I probably should have been able to have Velvet near the pool. The MWR headperson plans to talk to the contracting officer tomorrow and we'll see what happens. The writing is on the wall really--it's only a matter of time--but I need to hear the official word that I'm allowed to bring Velvet onto the pool deck.

The water disasterCollapse )

We got several tropical thunderstorms yesterday afternoon and evening. I'm not sure what the status of it is today, but our mostly dirt backyard, already saturated by the flood induced by the broken pipe, was a mud pit. Too bad we don't have any grass there yet, because it, and any stray ducks, frogs, or worms would have been very happy.

I contacted the water company today, and first thing on my agneda tomorrow will be writing the "leak letter" that will adjust any extra water usage due to the incident yesterday. Should, as all days have been lately, be exciting.
 

July 14th, 2012

My dog got kicked off of the public pool deck, details. @ 02:19 pm

I went out this morning and it was damp outside so I wondered if it rained. When it thundered later and poured, I knew it was not a fluke. Been playing cribbage on the iPhone and really appreciate that I may be able to play online with others. No one knows cribbage around here, so that's really cool!

I've been doing lots of working and a bit of play though that was wrought with excitement a bit too. My mother-in-law has continued to be here and definitely helps out.

I finished my EEO training on Thursday and promptly used it that afternoon. We decided to go to the pool on base after I finished the training at midday. We ended up getting there later than we'd liked because I needed to get my ID redone and that takes forever sometimes with the security that's required sometimes. Let me first say, we've been to the pool several times, and all of those times without problems. When we got there and checked in, the person manning the pool told me that I would have to leave Velvet outside the pool fence. I didn't think too much about it because, like I said, I'd been there before and tied her to the fence on the very edge of the deck. We all got ready to go in and I tied my dog to the fence like I've done before, and the pool manager approached me again and told me that I had to move my dog or leave the pool area myself. She said it was a military regulation and a health code violation to have an animal of any type on the pool deck. I believed this to be incorrect ant I told her that. We went back and forth, me getting more angry and her remaining steadfast, and after a time, I decided to follow her rule, remove my dog, and follow EEO processes to educate them and produce positive change. I didn't plan to have Velvet in the water--she's terrified of getting in pools--I just wanted to have easy access to her. I ended up having to put her across the pool from where we were on the other side of the fence.

Why they are wrongCollapse )

So I've contacted our disability program manager, and we're working on it, but it could take some time. Hopefully they (the people who manage the pool and its contract)will see reason, and it won't take too long to resolve, but it could take a while. It seems like we need to make people frm the bottom to the top know amor about guide dog etiquette as even the pool manager's contracting officer denied me.

I'm much less angry about it now , but man I was mad. There haven't been too many occasions when I haven't been able to go into a public place with a guide dog, but ion most cases, it's been because of either a person's being from another country, or because they're not educated. I never thought this could happen on a government installation, but there's a first for everything I guess.

On another note, we grilled salmon last night, and it was really tasty. I've never really tasted Caribbean jerk much, so this was a completely new thing for mme, but it wasn't too spicy and I enjoyed it.

Holly's brother John arrived back from EFY with hi sister, so they will all head back tomorrow.

So ends another long entry. What can I say, I have lots of fun and excitement in my life, either that or I'm just wordy.
 

July 10th, 2012

a post about life, diversity, and Julian's radio babble @ 09:41 pm

Well, it did rain after all last night, and it rained on and off today. Walking to and from my training today was quite enjoyable as it was cool and cloudy and nice, and unlike earlier in the week, though humid, the air felt very fresh.

I am a member of a special emphasis program committee and have been so since I started working at DLA, pretty much. Basically, a SEP is an outreach arm of the EEO office. They are the eyes and ears of the organization's policies on equal employment, and they advise and help to get people with diverse backgrounds and abilities employed. Sounds boring I know, but I enjoy it because I feel like I can make a difference in people's lives, especially if I can help them get a new job. Through the committee, I've gotten involved in other committees, and I've learned new skills and knowledge about 508 compliance (more about what that is in later entries). Before now, they have had six different SEPs--all concentrating on various groups. I, amazingly and shockingly enough, was a member of the persons with disabilities committee. Over time, we started having problems getting people to come to the meetings etc. Don't get me wrong, we did accomplish things and helped lots of people out I think, but we started to lack in participation. To make a long story a bit shorter, our EEO director decided to make all six SEPs into one, and so today started the training for the big committee. I'd done this training before a couple of years ago, and though it was very good then, I was worried I'd be bored, but I was definitely surprised.

diversity discussionCollapse )

Tomorrow, we're covering disabilities all day, so I shouldn't get too much new info, but I'm participating in a panel and representing visually impaired issues. I think I'll bring some of my tech in, but most of it fits in a pocket, so all I'll need to remember to bring is my braille display. Should be great fun answering questions.


On other non-related notes, I played with Julian on my radio and it was hilarious. I tought him to say such things as "rogre" and "k5. I set the radio to not transmit, and he held the mic and talked to the world about how my name was Daddy and that I pressed the button. Very hilarious. He's liked my radio since he was really little. It seems like it has some mystery to it--that and it's got lots of buttons on it--so those things combined with a curious two year old Julian makes for lots of fun. I just need to remember to lock transmit or he'll be transmitting jabber and Daddy to the world. Reminds me of what I do minus talking about Daddy in this journal.
 

July 9th, 2012

Entry on Smartphone rambling and other assundry things @ 08:18 pm

In the grand scheme of things, today was humdrum. I worked, played some audio games on my hone, and ... that's about it really. Why write you say? Because I'm trying to get in the habit of writing by gosh so there.

smartphone musingsCollapse )

Holly and her Mom took John to EFY and have safely returned via a pretty big storm they crossed somewhere in Southwest Virginia. They just canceled the Severe Thunderstorm Watch for us, and though I hope it will happen, I don't have much hope that we'll get much rain. Who knows, rain chances should continue throughout the week, so though the severe threat may not be there, I'll keep my rain hopes high.

I have EEO training tomorrow which I've already attended. It's required to attend however as they're forming a new Special Emphasis Program's committee at work, and I'm on it. I'll be there to cover the disability angle of things, and hope myself and my friend James can fill in the gaps as far as advisement about disability issues. We need to understand the whole picture of diversity and how we can hire others of diverse backgrounds and help them as they work, and that's why we have to take the training. I'm hoping I will be able to stay awake. Training lasts tomorrow and Wednesday all day and Thursday for half a day. I think I'm taking half a day off on Thursday so we can go swimming. Again, we shall see.
 

July 8th, 2012

swimming weather @ 09:32 pm

Tags:

It was definitely swimming weather out there today, and though we did not do too much in the way of swimming, at least we felt like we were swimming through the hot humid air. High was 104 today, yet another record, and the thunder and rain we're receiving now is welcome. We have slow, heavy, summer flies all over the place, and it has become Julian's sport to go around, flyswatter in hand saying, in a really sweet innocent voice, "commeer bug. Comeer bug." I don't think he's actually killed any flies, but it's sure darn cute.

Holly's brother, Mom and Dad came yesterday so they could take John, her brother, to a week-long church summer camp called EFY about two hours away from here. Her Dad left today to go back home, and her Mom plans to stay here for the week awaiting John's completion of EFY and Holly's Dad's return. They got here later than expected due to a flat tire before leaving, but they seemed to enjoy themselves. Consequently, we didn't go to church, but stayed here this week.

Holly's Dad seems to like to fix things when he comes here, and today was not an exception to the rule as he didn't have too much time. When we had the earthquake last year, it seems to have helped or caused the deck to twist slightly to the right. this encouraged the gate we use to keep Julian in and me from falling down the steps to be about an inch and a half from true, and therfore unable to latch. Turns out, the hinges got torqued, and we had to replace some screws, but we seem to have it working now so there's a correct latch, and so we don't have to use a bungee cord to keep the gate closed. Definitely more safe, and more convenient, a win win. Hard to imagine that a 5.8 earthquake could do that, but it sure makes sense. Being 40 miles from the epicenter, we definitely felt some rockin' and rollin' out here, and it seems like our deck got in on the action. though settling does occur in this part of the country, it seems to have been accellerated, and we saw more cracks from the paint in joints on the walls etc. after the quake.

We also got my HF antenna restretched, and I'm now pretty certain I can get back on the air without too much difficulty. I haven't made any contacts, but I am glad to know that our landscaper didn't cut the actual wire portion of the OCF (Off-center fed) dipole, but cut and/or untied the cord holding it. This is good, especially since the Antenna costs like $200. We're still going to have to untangle some things with a reaching pole he'll bring when he comes back next week, but I'm grateful for the quick fix, and glad to be back on the air.

Despite the heat and my misgivings about grilling in high temps, dean and I cooked burgers and hot dogs, and, that hellish task completed, we filled up the two inflatable pools we have. the burgers were good, and after eating, the pool was even better. The big inflatable apparently has a leak because after we filled it, part of the pool started to sag, and we lost water. We still had fun though, even with Julian shooting me in the face with a hose. He seems to think that that is a sadistic game, and that it's fun too.

I've been trying to stay awake since then by doing dishes and staying generally active, as I'm worried that if I go to bed too early, I'll wake up extra early and be totally screwed. Of course, my trusty cat alarm clock named Tippy will wake me up without fail at 6:30 or thereabouts wanting food. I'm working from home tomorrow, so whenever I start really doesn't matter. The later I start, the later I have to work, so I try to start early, right after the cat wakes me up, so I can get done early and possibly take a nap.

We went outside to watch another small storm move in, and that was nice. I liken storms to food. My favorite part of a storm is when the air turns from being a stagnant soup with rumbles anticipating what is to come, to a cool alfresco, turbulent and exciting, to the calm fresh end, the dessert of the storm. More soon, I don't think I can force myself to stay awake much longer. *big yawn*
 

July 6th, 2012

musings on mind-bending anomalies and asymetric science ... among other things @ 03:25 pm

Mind blowing.

Lots of things are mind blowing this afternoon. Let me expound.

  • Higgs-Boson Particles

  • Why I am at least partially coherent this afternoon upon waking up at 4:30 A.M. after not getting much sleep.

  • The state of my work inbox and the easy day I've had today

  • The size of this journal if printed in a book. With comments and table of contents, it would, in a standard hardcover book size be approximately 1400 pages. I know I have had the potential to be wordy at times, but wow, did I along with my readers write approximately 630000 words? Probably considering my average entry size is over 500 words.


So I woke up this morning to Velvet throwing up. I needed to start the dryer anyway, so I decided to forget it and get up early. I'm paying for it now, and am trying to employ the strategy of writing to stay awake since I'm finding stimulating things to do here at work somewhat of a rarity. I think it was really something that Velvet ate in the yard, but the golden sounds of a dog barfing is never a good thing to wake up too that earlyin the morning.

It continues to be hot. At about 7:15 when I got to work, it was 84, and the cicadas were active at 5:45 this morning. This kind of thing is supposed to happen in Arizona, not in Virginia. It feels like a tropical beach outside with none of the benefits and definitely no drinks with little umbrellas in them.

The steaks turned out good. I used three different rus on the different steaks, and liked the ones that I put on my steaks. Holly seemed to like her sirloins, so it was definitely worth the evil hot temps with accompanying sweat for the tastiness I enjoyed last night and for lunch today.

Quantum wanderingsCollapse )

Finally, I was looking back at previous entries in my pdf journal copy and was amazed how, in the past, I had people actually reading this thing and commenting on my entries. I have a feeling that the use of livejournal is most definitely decreasing for more popular Wordpress or blogger-like solutions. I never wrote exclusively to an audience, but now that I'm writing, I wonder if anyone has picked this tome back up? I post this to Facebook and Twitter and have heard from others, but wonder what detriment happens to one's social network if a blog or journal hasn't been written in for four years.

I came into the office today, but sure dread waiting for the van in this heat. A couple of weeks ago, I had to wait from 4:00 which is my normal pickup time until 5:30. At that point it was close to 100, but now we're dealing with a heat index, so I hope I get picked up relatively quickly this afternoon. If I could wait inside, all of my problems would be solved, but that's not possible since the entrance to the building is not in clear line of sight with the place where teh van comes to get me. Luckily there's a bench to sit on and that I have a book to read.
 

July 5th, 2012

workday musings of apple, bone conduction, and other things from hot Central Virginia @ 03:23 pm

Current Mood: hot

They say it's hot. Check, definitely hot. They say it's 99, check, probably 99. They say it feels like 101 F, buzzer. The complicated mathematical formula used to calculate how hot it feels based on humidity and temperature lies today though I'll give NOAA props, it does feel a shade, get it--shade, cooler than it did when the heat index was 113.

So I've finished all I can do with work, Julian is laying downstairs watching a movie, and as I wait for more work to miraculously appear, i thought I'd write. I had forgotten how much I actually enjoy writing, and wish I had continued over the years. Time, being the enemy of all things, continues and continued to move forward, and I was just too busy to write. This was probably a valid excuse on many an occasion, but I probably could have written something at least once a month.

bone conduction, the basicsCollapse )

I continue to eagerly await the release of IOS 6.0 and the iPhone 5 in whatever form it projects itself. Apple Developer rantCollapse )

I didn't do too much in the way of Fourth of July celebrations yesterday, but did do a hech of a lot of shopping yesterday on my day off. We got some steaks from Target which were on sale because we just got groceries in our Traget, so I'm grilling them tonight when it gets less insindiary outside. Which reminds me, I need to go downstairs provided my work box remains barren and marinate and/or season. Holly wanted sirloin, and I got ribeye. Julian will eat whatever, especially when catsup or salsa is involved, and all will be happy at the Romey house tonight. We had a few rogue fireworks in our neighborhood, but most people respected the ban on fireworks in the county, and layed off. I watched the Capitol Fourth from the cool safety and security of my couch, and didn't wish too hard we'd made the trip to DC to attend.

And with that, as I wait for my LJ book to generate, I'll sign. I remember generating a pdf of my journal before, but can't find it right now. I'd like to put it on dropbox so that I don't lose what I've written should something happen to LJ. Thank goodness I have AC in this office, it hasn't turned off yet this afternoon. Guess I"m going to continue to enjoy it and be grateful that I have it.
 

July 2nd, 2012

tap tap, is this thing on? @ 06:57 pm

Well ... it's been almost four years since I've written an entry. Sad, shocking, and amazingly interesting considering how much ahs gone on in life since August of 2008.

I'm now married, live in a house--have been for almost three years almost, and have been working at DLA for near on the exact amount of time since this last post, four years. It's quite funny that full college degrees could be earned in the time it ahs been since my last post. Oh well, all I must do is write as if I haven't written before.

I've been more active socially on the internet lately as I discovered my Twitter account which I created in ... you guessed it 2008, near the beginning of the twittervers. It's weird not having to limit myself to 140 characters. It's interesting to me that I have embraced Twitter as most of my previous livejournal entries average 500 words or more. But life is a maze of inconsistencies and oxymorons isn't it?

Julian, my son, is now two. He's saying all kinds of crazy things, and from what I understand, taking crazy pictures of me with my Holly's iPhone. Apparently, he camera caught me with peanut butter slimed sunglasses which he'd given me to wear, and I didn't even know it. Guess I missed the camera flash. I had a smile on my face, a can of Dr. Pepper in my hand, and Julian had introduced some artsy blurriness, making me look ultra cool. See and be amazed. Facebook seems to like it, and my son is becoming a new photographer apparently.

It continues to be really hot here with temps in the upper 90s with heat indices even higher. There are sporadic power outages around, some caused by the storms we had this weekend, some unexplained. I worked from home today, and at about 0900 (9:00 A.M.) the person I am Training told me that the power at the office was out. Apparently it was base wide, and for those who weren't scheduled to telework and were at the office, the base closed. I wasn't scheduled to telework, but I was teleworking, so I figuratively stared at a blank work computer screen all day as my support staff weren't there and work was a bit on the lacking side. I'm not complaining, it's been almost four years since I've been in this position, so am enjoying a bit of a break. I read some scientific articles on random things, checked out some AT related podcasts, and thought up ideas for articles and/or publications I could participate in. Not particularly exciting, but ... so goes my new life as a married father of one.

And that's about all I can think of to write about at the moment. 30% chance of rain tonight which this probability has spelled really big storms the past couple of days. Who knows. Time for mindlessness and/or listening to Julian jabber. Both passtimes are enjoyable, except for when he growls at random times and for no reason. No Julian, I don't want your half-eaten peanut butter sandwich thank you. Yummmmm.
 

August 6th, 2008

two constants, the good and the bad news, tech, what's been going on, and positively elemental @ 09:52 pm

There are two constants, at least two that I can think of now, that, like the setting and the rising of the sun, prevail always; today I got to experience both. First, government plods along slowly, deliberately, cautiously, bureaucratically, and in most cases, forward. Secondly, Wednesdays are and hopefully will always be fried chicken day at the DSCR "Center restaurant" i.e. the cafeteria. I've been working with DLA now about 13 days, and just got word that all of my adaptive technology has now arrived and I will, god willing and red tape notwithstanding, have computer and network access. IN my job, it is necessary to have network access because all that you do is done on the computer, a military computer. So while waiting, I've pretty much finished a phone list for our devision chief, made lots of friends and got to know others around the workplace, ane read five maybe six formidable books. Currently, I'm finishing the third Twilight book by Stephenie Meyer, and though the series isn't something I'd normally read, it's sure peaked my interest and made my netless days slither by more quickly. It will be a welcome surprise to start my training. They say that I'll wish to remember these days of doing nothing but reading, and I will, but I've been doing nothing much of importance in the last six or mor months when it comes to being productive, and I'm looking forward to becoming a productive member of the American workforce. I was slightly worried when Cathy, the EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity Office) came down, I assumed to tell me about the technology. "Well, I have some good news and some bad news. What would you like to hear first?" I asked for the bad news first. She told me that it would be four more weeks until I got my technology. All I could think was a series of thoughts--darn ... well, I guess I can read more books ... oh well. So straight faced, I said "OK, so what's the good news", and then she relented and said that it was all here and that she wanted to mess with me. I guess I've played too much poker in my day to give Cathy and the two other bystanders who are also my friends from near her office the thrill of watching me peel myself off of the ceiling with rage. It was still funny though, and I'm getting tech, so it's all excciting.

I continue to take the van service to and from work, and besides the few times that I have to wait for the van in the heat, it's been an enjoyable experience.

I've met some really nice people at work, and they will probably make the working day much more barable. They alerted me about fried chicken day today in fact, because they knew that fried chicken was my favorite. Because I don't do it often--eat fried chicken that is--I dashed down there and got it to take back to my desk. The chicken was pretty good--expensive but good--and I'll have to do it again sometime soon.

My writing is extremely disjointed right now so I'll close soon, but the person who shares the cube with me to my left has a periodic table hanging up on his bulletin board. WThere's so many chemists and chemical engineers that work there, that we find humor in odd ways. So it's with this little tidbit that I close my entry. My cube number when equated to an atomic number on the periodic table equates to elemental symbol PT, platinum. My cubemate's element is platinum, and the guy across the way in our setup is herbium. I think that if I have more spare time in the coming tdays, I'll include elements with everyone's cube number--just because I can :P!
 

July 29th, 2008

The maze becomes clearer @ 10:15 pm

Current Location: Midlothian, VA

Well it's now been seven full days that I've worked for the Federal government. I still haven't gotten a computer or software to use the computer, but that has finally been ordered today, so perhaps I'll actually be able to do more than read books and meet people soon. I've been tasked to do some time studies on processes that they use in the office, so I've been filling my time keeping and recording it, all while wasting time watching people do their work. Actually it's been pretty educational, at least on the little I've been able to accomplish, and I can't wait to get my hands on a working computer so that I can input something into the system. The people here are very nice, and I'm learning from everyone, especially in the department of keeping a positive outlook in the workplace. Someone tole me that "this is the best place in the world to work" and that made me glad I accepted the job and moved all the way across the country to take it.

Today's major highlight at work was getting my CAC (Common Access Card) ID Card. It basically is your passport to the federal and military world at the Department of Defense and allows you to not only get onto the center (and any other military installation) but also allows you to get into your computer. It has your picture, finger prints, demographic and personal data, encryption data, and other info stored on its computer chip. Lose it, and it's apparently an act of Congress to get it back. It's going to stay in it's little holder when I'm home, and I'm going to try really hard not to lose it because when a Federal employee tells you that it's going to be an act of Congress if you lose it (I've heard this twice), it probably will be. Plus, losing it means that you probably won't be able to do your work or get to work for that matter. It's a rite of passage for any new employee, and though it didn't involve initiation or strange rituals, it was still neat to give up my visitors badge and become a real employee.

The Seeing Eye rep came today for my followup visit to Richmond. We walked from the front door to my desk several times and it's all become more clear as to how the building is layed out. There are multiple ways to get from the front door to my cubicle, and Velvet likes to cut through the middle of the building sometimes to get me to the door, but Dave and I are working on getting her to pick one way and stick with it. That's why we've been doing it over and over again, and why she's dead tired tonight. Her taking different and less obvious routes to places within the building but still arriving at the correct destination reminds me of the circuitous routes my GPS tells me to go when I'm trying to play navigator to Holly when she's driving.

Tomorrow we're going to work on some work here near the complex--walking to Food Lion, and the shopping center that has several other places in it--and then we'll go to the center and work there for a while.

It's maddeningly quiet here now. Holly and her brother left on Sunday afternoon, and now I'm having to do the lonely bachellor thing. She's planning on coming with her family to go to Washington D.C. for the day on Saturday, and it will be really good to see her. It's amazing how much you miss a person when they've been with you--uninterrupted--for a couple of weeks, and then--loneliness. I'm managing though. I'm not sure I'm eating as healthy as if I had Holly here to keep me eating more vegetables and healthy foods--I ate Hamburger Helper today--but I try to hit all fouor food groups with every meal, and that's a start. I shudder to think that I've probably got four meals of Hamburger Helper left. So who can guess what I'll have for lunch tomorrow?

Well, I guess I should get to sleep before I have to get out and travel in the concrete jungle of bureaucracy and hazardous material logistics. More soon, and sorry to have not answered comments until after I post this entry. When I get to actually do my job, perhaps my entries will become more interesting. Perhaps they'll just get deathly boring depending on how mind numbing my job is. Time shall tell.
 

July 22nd, 2008

Virginia finally, and my first couple of days @ 11:10 pm

Current Location: Midlothian, VA

I've been so busy with moving etc. that I haven't written since finally finding out that I'd be moving to Virginia. Trust me, you wouldn't have wanted to read about my apartment hunting and subsequent move. I can distill it all down to "moving sucks" and continue onward. Suffice it to say, I've found an expensive but nice apartment (what's not at least marginally expensive in the Richmond area), and I am officiially employed by the Federal government.

My Mom took me here to VA and had to leave two days after getting here because of a training thing she had to do. It was surprising how hard it was when she left, not because I was not going to be with my Mom anymore, but because with this move, it was a permant thing. I'll go home, but I don't know when that next time will be. I still miss things at home, but as I've started working, I've become a bit less homesick. When Holly and her brother leave on Saturday, it's probably going to get harder again. I've dealt with harder things in life though, and I'm sure I can handle it. Being alone will truly suck, and I'm looking forward to the day soon when I'll have a lifelong companion in Holly to be with.

Yesterday and today have epitomized the fact that days like that allow you to learn lots, but also are very sucky, especially when you get lost as much as I've done. Holly was with me yesterday to help me fill out forms, try to orient me to the rat maze that is the building that I work in, and just generally be supportive. Today, she just dropped me off, so it was all me, and boy did I pass the getting lost test with flying clors. Each building here has been converted from being a huge long warehouse to an office building. All they did was pretty much take the 1000 foot warehouses, put carpeting, air condition, system furniture, and some permant walls and rooms in, and voilla, an office building. Each building is divided into bays for organizational and sanity purposes, and each bay is divided up into an insane grid of squares, which is then divided up with four desks in each square. What makes this setup hard is that as you travel down the building's length, it's hard to tell where to turn to get to your particular row of cubicles, and then finally find your cubicle, so I spent lots of time today telling people where my cubicle was (building number, bay, and cubicle number), and they'd direct me. I felt like a lost child sometimes. People that have been working there for twenty years or more say that they still get lost. I just find it amazing that I can walk (and I've never done this yet) through the whole building from end to end, from the most part, going inside. My building, building 33 is geek grand central for DSCR (Defense supply Center Richmond) (we have IT, engineering, and other departments I haven't discovered yet), and it's also got the cafeteria and fitness center in it, so it's actually pretty neat to be in a relatively central location. If I can map the building in my mibnd, I should start to get an idea of where I am in space and in the cube grid, but that will take time. At least there's a grid of cubes now, apparently in the past, there was an 1000 foot building with row upon row of desks.

Velvet has been turning heads and continues to amaze me and otherse. Because I have no idea where I'm going, she gets confused along with me. It's useful for the dog if I can give her firm commands, but if I have no idea where I'm going, I generally don't do too well with that. I'm hoping that the Seeing Eye will come down to do a follow up with me at some point soon, so that maybe I can try to orient myself and Velvet to the building's insides and the surroundings of the base. I think we'll do OK, but the school's followup services would be greatly appreciated right about now. I'm just thankful that they exist, and that they are so willing to come down to help out.

I can't do any work at all until I get security access to the system, and then after that, get an access card which is both your id and has a computer chip in it that allows you to access the computers. Without that card, there's no way to get any work done. I'm also waiting for JAWS and Kurzweil to come, and then I'll have to wait to get the IT people to install it all. So I went to the new employee orientation class today, and I'll be attending it for a short time. It's informative but boring at times, but it's better than sitting and doing nothing.

Before I go, and I need to go soon so I can get to bed and get up tomorrow for my first ride with the van service that the county provides (Holly took me in and back today and yesterday), I had a funny experience in my inprocessing to become a federal employee. At the end of filling in all of the forms etc., you have to be sworn in. I went through the process with about seven or so other new employees, and when we got to the swearing in part, they told us to read aloud the swearing in session. It wasn't until Saturday that I got my cable turned on, so I didn't have time to fill out the forms or put them on my Pac Mate. So though I paid complete attention to what was said, I so just moved my lips like an idiot to it all. They said they't just trust me that I'd defend the Constitution etc.

I'm ceasing to make sense, so I'm going to post this and get to bed. 5:30 or 6:00 will come very soon. I think, I hope, that as I get into a routine of work, that I won't be as tired as I have been when I get home so that I can write more again soon.
 

June 3rd, 2008

job things, Fiona's missing tooth, and the weekly summary @ 07:02 pm

We took Fiona to the vet yesterday to get her heartworm medicine and have her yearly vaccines. The vet told me that she needed to have her teeth cleaned, so she went in to have them done. Seems that one of her premolars was cracked, so it got pulled. Poor Fiona is very groggy, tripped up on morphine and laying in my bedroom. I have no idea how the tooth got cracked, but the vet thought it was a good idea to have it removed, so I'm glad we had it done.

I got word from DLA about my job. Seems that the step increase that I requested because of my masters degree and extre experience was disapproved. What does that mean? Well, I come in on the lowest step possible. Though there's room for promotion, I jump two grades per year, it was still kind of sad that I wasn't able to come in with the added value of having my masters. I thought about writing a "what am I really worth" or "what worth can I put on myyself" essay but then decided against it. I know that I learned a lot while getting my masters. I also know that this is a good starting job, I hope, and that Holly and I will manage with the starting salary I'll be making. A job making some money is better than doing nothing, which is what I've been doing for a while. It's a job thab that I know I will be able to do and do well, so I decided to officially try to throw my money hungry side away and take the job so that Holly and I can move forward with our lives. Thinking positive is the only way to do it I think.

My voice continues to be MIA, sI I went to the doctor today. Got some antibiotics and cough syrup, and so I'm hoping that I'll feel better soon.

haven't been able to work with Velvet much lately because my Mom has been moving to a new classroom, and my Dad has been busy working and cleaning up the yart which, with our recent rains, seems to grow in feet per week rather than some more sane unit of measure.

We're still planning to take a trip to Richmond to check things out. Still need to firm up the details of our trip.

Well, that's all I have the energy to write about. More soon.
 

May 30th, 2008

(no subject) @ 09:28 pm

I feel ok, I've been better, but my voice has gone downhill. DLA HR called me, and I could hardly talk. With the EEO (Equal opportunity Office) called me to talk about what equipment I wanted, I could hardly talk to them either. And when we went to the Texas Roadhouse with some friends of ours, I had a really hard time communicating. I also had a hard time communicating to Velvet that eating peanut shells on the floor isn't what I want her to do. I managed to extract a few before I put her into a virtual headlock with foot on leash, and hands around her nose, and she got the picture. I'm currently living on Musinex, Benedril, and lots of liquids. The annoying thing is that I have energy to do things. I have to teach Sunday School at church this Sunday, and I hope I sound, and feel better. I'll push through--I always do--but it may kind of be painful.

Like I said, I talked with EEO and they're going to talk to the IT office to see if what I requested will be able to be used on the computer system. I still have some time to pick what I want, but I'm thinking that I've got at least an initial idea of what I need. Then I can think of other things that won't necessarily be essential, but would be useful to have later on as I go to my training duties every month.

Tomorrow, I don't have anything huge planned except for remaining as silent as I can and planning my lesson. I might create a phone post just to demonstrate my patheticness, but that might bring people glea to make mun of me. I talked to Holly today, and she said that I sounded cute. My throat sure doesn't feel cute, but whatever.

More soon.
 

May 29th, 2008

Graduate school flashing by my eyes, Velvets new technology @ 06:13 pm

Tags: ,

My life flashed before my figurative eyes when the director of the chemical engineering graduate school and my advisor called me today.

"Noel, are you sure you have enough classes to graduate with your masters?"

Here I was, job in hand, and I didn't have the required classes? What am I going to do? At least the job doesn't require a masters but still.

Turns out I was co-enrolled at the end of my bachellors degree. I filled out the paperwork to get it processed as my masters degree and the graduate school lost the forms. Luckily, copies of the forms were made and so we'll wave it in their faces and make them make the changes so that I can get my degree. All that counts is that I got the letter from the department head confirming my GPA and MSCHE status. That will ticket me with some meager leverage to increase my pay scale. I feel like I deserve more than I am probably going to get, but it is a start, and as I stay there, my salary willl mushroom appreciably.

Got the today, and all of the TV claims are correct. I never gbet much hair from Velvet with the grooming implements we got at The Seeing Eye, but with the Furminator, I had a ball of fur with a packed diameter of about two inches when I was done. It just kept coming off and coming off in really fine little clumps. The way it works is that it catches the undercoat in it's fine little--bladelets???? (I can't think of any other word for it), and you just take the fur from the tines and go through the coat again.

Also got a Kong Xtreme for Velvet since she tries to kill everything that she gets as far as toys, and she's putting it to its test right now. Wiat a funny puppy. She makes all kinds of noises when she chews that thing. I just hope she's not able to get any chunks from this undestructible one. She's very posessive with it, and won't let Zim get her toy which is good. Fiona lets the little dog dominate. There's definitely a pack order that's forming with Velvet being off leash.

That's all I've got now. I'm glad things are coming together. Now if I can just convince them to help with moving expenses, things will be golden and I'll be in my happy place. More soon.
 

Report! @ 10:44 am

Current Mood: tired tired

It's really sad to hear the gas prices right there up with the prices of oil and the stock market. Today the price has inched to 3.95m and whether you drive or not, the prices do effect.

So I've got an effective or "report" date for Richmond. They usually want you to be there 30 days after they officially give an offer, but since my Mom's going to Australia and will be back on the 2nd of July, and since I need help moving, we got it moved to July 21. I'm kind of excited. We're still working on salary details, mostly because my masters hasn't posted officially yet, and because since it's not official, an official transcript won't work to prove my masters, How's that for bureaucracy and redundant systems. Holly and I are planning on visiting Richmond in the middle of June to scope things out, and hopefully find a place to live for a while. Lots of decisions, lots of things to do, and lots of stress. But I think I can handle it.

Velvet's now completely off leash in the house now. The cat and Velvet sniffed each other a bit yesterday, and I think they're getting to know each other. Gabby is still very wary, and Velvet has to hold her water, fire, and brimstone to leave the poor kitty alone, but I think wee're progressing.

I'm not planning much today but watching some of the Deadliest Catch episodes I had the Tivo record while I was away at The Seeing Eye. I've also got some form of marginally nasty crud which I'm trying to shake. If I can get all the negotiation and craziness done with DLA, I get to process myself into federal government service. Signatures and letting of blood for signature and soul transfer most likely happens when I report to Richmond. It's a nice day outside, so I might hang out on the porch for a while too. Just trying to enjoy my peace and quiet before my job.

Days until Job -- t-53 days give or take
 

May 27th, 2008

hanging at home, my weekend @ 02:58 pm

Current Location: Cabot, AR
Tags: ,

Every time I touch Fiona, I realize how old she's getting. I've noticed that lately even more ... I don't know why. I guess I should be used to her laying around all the time, but when you compare that with Velvet, she seems like she's very slow. I decided to get out a dog biscuit for all of the dogs just to see if she was feeling ok enough to get up and run over to me, and indeed she got up and ate the dog biscuit. I can't tell if she's actually sad that I've got another dog--she still lets me pet her and likes it, but it's still not the same.

I've been doing well lately except for it's difficult because I haven't been able to talk to Holly much lately. She's been taking care of her Grnadmother and can't use the phone much. I guess I took it for granted that I could talk to her every day because now that I can't, it's very difficult for me.

This weekend, my sister, brother-in-law, and Romey, my six month-old niece, came over to spend the Memorial Day weekend with us. We all had fun, Velvet especially, playing games and generally having fun hanging out. We even had time enough in the evenings to have a three day Mexican Train Dominos tournament. Usually when I play the rest of my family, Kelsea and Philip especially, I've gotten unlucky with a hand or two which throws my point total way off. For some reason, luck was smiling on me this weekend. In a set of six games, I got almost 110 points which barely won. I don't mind losing ... I love Mexican Train whether or not I lose or win ... but this weekend was pretty sweet. It was great to be together as a family and much better than my lonely afternoons here at the house during the week. At least before I got my job, I could job hunt, now all I do is read books and listen to talk radio. Don't get me wrong, I love reading and listening, but I'm looking forward to the land of the work week and occupational headaches and stress.

Yesterday, I went to a Memorial Day get-together at a friend from church's house. There were a whole bunch of people there, and a whole bunch of food. It was a good test for Velvet, because we were outside the whole time, and so I again realized how much Velvet likes to chew on everything, especially sticks. The thing about Velvet is that when I take something that she's chewing--like a stick or a toy--she'll give it up willingly, so it wasn't a big deal, but it was interesting to watch her gnaw on a stick like it was a nylabone. I'm sure she ate part of the stick, especially the second stick I took from her. She sniffed at the little family dog that was there, but wasn't too distracted by him. She seems like she's content just to hang out. Whenever I get up, unless she's deep in sleep (that happens much of the time), she'll come to attention. It was in the mid 80s, and the sun was shining, the whole huge yard is covered with trees, and that made it very comfortable for all humans and dogs.

I've started letting her off leash in the house. This is a day or two sooner than the two weeks that we're proscribed to keep our dogs on leash arrest, but I wanted to see how she would do, and unless someone opens up the front door, a new person comes into the house, or one of the other dogs wants to go outside, she generally sleeps at my feet without me asking her to "rest". I still keep her on leash at the table, and I'll put her on leash at the end of the day when my parents come home, but I definitely consider her behavior now to be greatly improved in the house compared to when I first brought her here. Her feet still skid on the smooth wooden floors which is highly amusing.

I haven't been able to work Velvet much lately which really is distressing to me. I can't do anything about that though but adjust her food levels for her lower activity level, and work her whenever someone has enough energy and/or time to take me somewhere I can work. Tomorrow, I think I'm going to my Mom's school again, so it will be nice to work her there. She seems to be getting better at the routes within the school, and that's great practice for later on when I'm in an office atmosphere.

And that's about all I can think to write. It's not raining now so Zim, our little dog, is calm now, but as it thunders periodcally, he likes to stick to me like glue needing for comfort. Fiona and Velvet just sleep. And that's what I'm going to do here in a minute after I post this, take a nap.
 

May 20th, 2008

big adventures at the Mexican restaurant, working with Velvet again, and our last few trips at a gla @ 02:40 pm

Current Location: Searcy, AR

I'm writing from my Mom's school where we had an interesting experience which I had to write about. Since semester tests are going on, students can go home early, and teachers are free to do work in their rooms after the students leave. This opens up the normally 30 minute lunch to a more sane amount of time, and so most of the teachers go somewhere for lunch. My mom and I decided to go to a Mexican place in town which has a franchise close to where we live, We've been to this place before, but without my dog.

Noel and Velvet's big adventureCollapse )

Velvet's done really good work here in the building. She's now pretty patterned to going through the cafeteria completely rather than going into the serving line. On the way to the office, I had a clearance issue with a row of desks that was in the hall, but we reworked it a couple of times, and she finally avoided it well.

In the room, Velvet has a tennis ball of her own that she's been playing with. I let her off the leash here in the room for the first time to run a bit and be supervised by my Mom, and she continues to be fascinated by the tennis balls put on the bottom of the chair legs to dampen scraping noises on the concrete floor. Those balls haven't dampened her spirit enough to keep trying to wrench a ball off of one of the chairs, but having all of these balls around does confuse her a bit when she plays with her ball and she loses it. She just has a lot of balls to choose from, and it's hilarious to watch her try to find tge ball that isn't mysteriously stationary. When we come into my Mom's room, she always wants to try to go into the first door we come to from the front door. I found out today that that door leads to the inschool suspension room. I don't know what Velvet's trying to tell me, but there's got to be a veiled message in there somewhere that I can infer right? Silly puppy!

My security clearance paperwork is finally done. I spent most of yesterday finishing all of the form fields and going back and forth with the security person at DSCR (Defense Supply Center Richmond), and we believe that now, it's correct. My errors weren't huge, but I was mismatching some dates, and that would have caused problems with the screening process, especially with my eployments running for example from 2007 to 2005 when I really should have entered the dates from 2005 to 2007. So now my life can continue, or not, since I'll be just waiting to hear back from DLA to determine when the clearance has completed. At least I'm not trying to get a secret or a top secret clearance--those can take up to 3 years to complete. So, at most, I'll be waiting for six months. This seems like a long time, but I think I can handle it. If I can make sure to find places to work Velvet, I'll be ok that is, because working on the road where I live is, at this point, still not possible.

Church on Sunday went well. I have most of the people there trained to not pet the new dog, but people were definitely curious about her. All of this adjustment process is education not only for handler and dog, but it's an education process for the public as well. I just look at these things as a few more fun challenges.

The last two days of training with the trip to the airportCollapse )
 

May 18th, 2008

Bumper cars or not, Saturday sailing, and Friday's school adventure complete with handcuffs @ 07:49 am

Tags:

There's a first for everything, and yesterday, my first was that we got into a slight wreck on the way to the base to work Velvet. It was, as I said, slight, and Velvet, myself, and my Dad are ok, but it was an experience, especially since it could have been worse if the person who refused to yield to us at the base gate right in front of the guards had hit my door rather than hitting the right front fender. Needless to say, after an hour of sitting in the warm truck, a citation was issued, and we went on into the gate. The odd thing about it was that it was literally 20 feet from the gate and the guards saw everything. The older lady felt really bad about it but what's done was done. All Velvet did when it happened was sit up, then after she realized that nothing that interesting and ordinary (in her calm dog brain) was going to happen, she laid down and went to sleep. The airbags did not deply, and even if they had, she was laying in the floor boards so would have been ok, but it was kind of freaky since I've never been in an accident with a guide.

It didn't phase her though. Her work on the base was really great. We crossed a few intersections, one with an island, and though wary of the traffic, she did well. We probably walked about a mile or so in total, basically tracing a path and then retracing it back to the injured, yet drivable truck.

This morning, I'm going to go to church. I have some time, so I thought I would write this entry. It should be interesting to see how she reacts in church, especially with the billion kids that will be all interested in my new dog, but I'm sure, as always, that it won't phase her too much, especially with her work clothes (the harness and leash) on. We don't stand up and sit down too often in the meetings, sometimes never, so that should be helpful and causing her to, like many of the older--men especially--go to sleep.

I spent much of yesterday filling out, or refilling out I should say, my security form. I had it about half filled out on Thursday night, and since I don't have Acrobat, couldn't save the form. Thursday night, my computer decided to go onto Microsoft Update and update itself (oddly), and after rebooting itself at 3:00 A.M., powerless to do anything in my sleepy state, I lost the form. I'm close to being back to where I was, but it was still painful, especially since I had to call some people back that I'd missed. My friend Neil and I went to Chili's last night, and again, Velvet did well. She only went after one piece of food, and I caught her before she could ingets it. I'm still not sure if I would trust her in a steakhouse/salloon where they throw peanut shells on the ground, but maybe we'll get there.

Friday I went to high school with my Mom who teaches there. They are getting to the very end of the year, so it was pretty laid back, morseo than usual, in her classes. We worked the perimeter of the chool building, and we even practiced a cafeteria line. After going through the line at lunch time, she didn't want to go through the cafeteria, but kept steering me to the actual line. Perhaps she feels that I need to gain some weight?

After school, we went to the police station in town to get my fingerprints done. She put her feet on the counter once, probably since the officer who did the printing talked to her, but that was the extent of her revelry. I thought it was really cool that my fingerprints were done in the main interrogation room. I wouldn't let the officer put the cuffs that were attached securely to a custom built hulk of a counter, but it was still cool to play with them and roll them around on their rail. Apparently they can cuff five or six people at a time, and apparently, according to the officer, "Not even the strongest convict has been able to break it--and we've had some ruffians in here". It could have been a growing fish tale, but I doubt it. That thing was solid.

Provided I don't take a long nap this aftternoon, expect an update from the last two days in training. Until then, later.
 

May 15th, 2008

Home at last, a job! and Velvet adjusting @ 08:53 pm

Current Location: Cabot, AR
Current Mood: tired tired

Well, I'm home. I haven't had energy to write today because I'm so tired I can hardly think. My legs are tired, and my body generally aches from the side effects of training at The Seeing Eye.

This is not necessarily a good thing, especially since at 6:50 this morning (yes, I got up at 5:30 central for park time even though I didn't have to), the DLA called me and gave me a tentative job offer. Basically, this means that I have to get my security clearance organized, and then once that's done, we can start negotiating salary time to start etc. I'm excited, but the whole thing still ahsn't sunk in really, probably because I'm still recovering from class.

The flight went really well--better than I expected actually. Dogs who haven't flown before many times stand up or get restless when you take off or land but Velvet practically slept through most of the takeoff and all of the landing. We got to Little Rock late (an hour late) so that was slightly annoying.

Velvet seems to be doing well. When we got here last night about 11:30 pm central, she was very excited and tugged on her leash, desperate to sniff through and over all of the nooks and crannies throughout the house. She met Fiona and Zim (our little dog) and they seem to be getting along just fine. We keep the dog on leash for about two weeks from the time they first go home. It's definitely a period where the dog will test his or her owner, so when that happens, it's best that they be on leash so that you can bust them when it happens. Velvet's feet have already graced our counters and my Mom's and Dad's pants legs, but she was busted sufficiently fast enough so that maybe she won't do it too often. After that two weeks, it's anybody's guess how she'll act, but the leash time gives an opportunity for us owners to lay down the law.

Velvet met Gabbie, the family cat, and as one of the instructors suggested, she's currently hanging out, voluntarily, in the garage. Velvet was really excited and tried to play with Gabbie when she was inside, so she's still a bit freaked out.

I haven't touched my harness since I got here, so I still don't know how Fiona will react to someone else wearing a harness, but I suspect it will go fine. something that especially struck me was how different Velvet feels than Fiona does. You'd think that I wouldn't forget how Fiona feels--coarse but thickfur on her back, but goldenish hair everywhere else--but since I've been petting Velvet a lot over the three weeks, I've become accustomed to feeling her short hair. Fiona also gained some week over the years that I had her caused partially by my fault and partially out of my control, so that was striking as well. I'm going to try to keep Velvet's weight relatively constant, and we're going to try to drop Fiona's weight a bit so that maybe we can buy a few extra months of life for her. She's still very healthy though, so we'll see. I stilldread losing her and wonder why dogs can't just live forever.

My Mom moved Fiona's bed into the dining room, but when I told her that I thought that Fiona would like being in her usual spot with her bed in the corner in my room. I don't know how long it'll be that way, but the two dogs seemed to coexist well last night, so we'll have to see for tonight.

I have to write about the past two days of class. There is stuff to write about, but for now, I lack energy.

I don't want to play down this job offer. I've been working so long with my education, and this will be my first job, but I'm almost too tired to be extremely excited. I know for one thing, I'm too tired to keep filling out this form. It's eight pages, and requires me to, in my sleep deprived state, remember all of the places I've lived in the past seven years and remember and/or compile addresses and numbers of people I knew at those places. I need to talk to the security guy in Richmond tomorrow about what exactly I need to be writing downn (in other words, can I get out of this stuff). Unfortunately, with 9/11 getting security clearances of any type (I require a noncritical sensitive clearance) is difficult. At least I'm not getting a top secret clearance. Thouse things take aeons to get.

Our continuing challenge will be to find places to work Velvet. I can't walk safely (I don't think) on the road near our house, so will have to figure out alternate places. I'm going to go to my Mom's school tomorrow to show her off and also work her a bit in town. We also have to get my fingerprints done, sow e'll do that in town.

Well, that's all I have the energy to write about. I'm thankful that I've now got a job, and that Velvet seems to be, at least now, socially adjusting to being here at the house. We'll see how her work is tomorrow, and we'll also see, in my next entry, what I did the last two days in class. More soon.
 

May 12th, 2008

Sunday, Dog massage, new harness test drive, and going home soon? @ 09:36 pm

Current Location: Morristown, NJ

Well, the past day and a half haven't been hugely eventful, but they bring me a day and a half closer to going home and therefore to the next phase in our training, and they warrant writing about.

My visit with my new friend, Kevin, from Morristowngreen.com was really cool. Not only was it a good opportunity for me to meet someone new, but it also gave me some much needed non-dog related outside contact with the world. We took a couple of trips around the leisure path, giving him an idea of how dogs work close up. Kevin also took some pictures of us to put on the site which may appear here as well. Let's face it, I haven't posted many pictures of Velvet and I on my journal, so this was good. In our nonwalking, nonphoto snapping spare time, we hung out in the lounge where we chatted with the people and their other visitors about technology and life in general. It ended my Sunday very nicely, even if it got a bit cool and windy in the foliage and trees around the leisure path.

Dog MassageCollapse )
Today was pretty picture perfect as Velvet's work went. In the morning, we went on a route where we tested her street crossing and street entering abilities, and as always, clearance issues here in Morristown. She got right out there today. Seems as the New York City elixir cured her of her boredom and caution to enter the street. We don't want her, or I for that matter, to get too cocky about travelling, but I'm glad we're doing loads better.

In the afternoon, we went to visit the land of the Blue h*** (Wal-Mart) to test how Velvet would follow an instructor around and through aisles, harness through isles and around tight corners, and all that kind of store stuff. Again, pretty darn close to perfection. Too bad we have to leave soon and throw us into an unfamiliar area. I think we'll be ok.

The mystery of my arm, and the advent of the new handleCollapse )

the intricacies of Going homeCollapse )


All I know is that I'll have to pack tomorrow, and no matter what I'm packing for, I hate packing with a passion.

And so that I have enough energy to pack, I better close this and head to bed. I'll have to test out my new harness handle in actual real world working conditions. The leisure path was a good test, but it didn't help test things like stopping for streets, curbs, steps, and that kind of thing. My arm should be better with the ergo harness handle though, and if that's the case, I know I'll be a happier, less numb, and less tired person tomorrow evening. "forward" to tomorrow!
 

May 11th, 2008

this peaceful morning, roughhousing, a knot on the head, and THE BIG TRIP with photo @ 12:45 pm

Current Location: Morristown, NJ

Last night I was so tired because of the trip. It was a good tired though, but because I didn't want to do it on Sunday, I did my laundry, wrote Fiona's puppy raisers a three page letter, unjammed and reset the laser printer, and helped with some computer issues, I had no energy to write a New York Trip entry. SAure, I left my laundry to the last minute, but that'll never change. Today is Sunday, and thus a day of rest and relaxation for both us and our canines, and save for maybe a trip around the leisure path a time or two, I think we'll take advantage of the opportunity. the MorristownGreen online editor is also coming by to visit, and since we have no access to my family except for via phone or internet because they live in Arkansas, contact from the outside world that's not connected with training or an en route contact is very nice.

Especially in the mornings, Velvet likes to blow off steam by going literally crazy, running around in circles, prancing, dancing, and gallivanting around the room. One of her favorite things to do is to hold her Nylabone in her mouth while doing this, and when she's feeling particularly spunky, she'll flip over on her back, all four paws waving, her body slithering side to side. We've had a few more bed incidents, but she seems to respond really well to my sharp reprimand "off!" She acts as if I've smacked her sometimes, but I get my message across. She's improving, but this means she plays on the hard floor, and since we've been allowed to let the dogs off of a stable tie down, play time sometimes gets more rough that I'd like it to. This morning after one of these sessions, I was petting Velvet and generally looking over her condition when I found a huge goose egg (hematoma) on the top of her natural bony knot on her head. They say that this probably was caused by hitting her head on the floor when she was playing. It apparently doesn't hurt, and it'll go away in a couple of weeks, but hopefully I can keep her more calm so she doesn't hurt herself again. There's apparently another dog in class that has a hematoma, so it happens, but even though dogs feel pain different than we do, I still want to try to prevent any more gratuitous head banging in the future.

Now to yesterday, and the main subject of this entry, New York. the trip with pictureCollapse )

I think I'll be ready to head home for another set of challenges on Wednesday night, four days away. I wasn't sure if it'd be possible a couple of days ago, but I think she proved that we could do it. I don't think Velvet knows what's coming, but I think she'll like it at our house. She'll have to school Zim, our little dog, and she'll get to meet the cat, but knowing Velvet, she'll probably find it adventurous and fun.

I need to take an adventurous and fun nap really quick before lunch, so I'll post the menu for yesterday and head home. I didn't eat lunch here, but hey, what the heck, I'll type that in too, Why not?

More when it's there. Onward, and most importantly "Forward!"

Menu for yesterdayCollapse )
 

May 9th, 2008

The pizza story, the mall, and other oddss and ends @ 09:07 pm

Current Location: Morristown, NJ

I think that only a Seeing Eye grad and ex-college student would understand my predicament. Yes, I really like high caloric food with names I can't pronounce. Yes, it's nice to know I'm eating gourmet non-frozen food three times a day. And yes, when I asked them how their bacon was so flat and perfect this morning, they said they laid it out on parchment paper and put it into the oven to perfectly bake/fry. Ex-college students don't have time to go to such great lengths, but I enjoy cooking, and I greatly appreciate it, especially when we're talking desserts. But ex-college students, those of us who enjoy a spot of grease now and again, enjoy a spot of unhealthy artery hardening greatness from time to time. The more famous the fast food joint, and the most recognizable the food stuff, the better. What I'm trying to say is that this food is absolutely amazing. I forgot to post the menus thereby ruining the diets of many by temptation, but I hit the wall today and hit it hard, the Seeing Eye Fast Food Craver's wall that is. I had to have some grease, I was in the mall food court, and the time was well ... then.

The Mall saga: The Getting of the PizzaCollapse )

We've been given the power as of tonight to let our dogs off leash and see how they do for short periods of freedom around the room. Velvet has done well with this so far, and I'm getting good at keeping her excitement level down a bit so that she doesn't cannonball around the room going crazy. She responds very well to spoken scolding, and I think if I'm consistent, she'll be golden. Fiona is very sneaky about getting things like food from the table, or generally misbehaving. She knows that she's not supposed to do something, but she knows that if she does it really quiet, I won't catch her. Velvet's much more direct and loud about things, and I hope it stays that way because I'll be able to nab her and continue to lay down the law.

Today was, minus the rain, a very good day. As with all trainees and dogs here at The Seeing eye, we have peaks and valleys of greatness. we all go through good periods and bad--especially when we first start training, and also when we get home. I'm just goad that we're away from a trough now, and headed uphill Let's just hope that the uphill trend continues as we travel in New York City tomorrow for the ultimate test of our progress. It's hard to imagine that I got Velvet on the 28th of April, 11 days ago. We've taken a few steps backwards from time to time, but we're so so far ahead of where we started. We've got a ways to go yet, and it won't be all roses and tulips, but I think we're headed in the right direction now.

I don't know what we're doing in the city, but whatever it is, it promises to be pretty fun. It might even involve a trip into Central Park, which I've never been to. I'm headed to bed "early" tonight, because I don't think I'll have time to take multiple naps tomorrow, so I'll close here. Onward, upward, and most importantly "FORWARD!"
MenuCollapse )
 

Rain, Rain, and more Rain, the @ 12:53 pm

Current Location: Morristown, NJ

I remember once when I was going between classes, and once when I traveled from class. Both of those times it was raining, and both of those times I dripped, but today, Velvet and I dripped. I probably could have drank the water that slid lazily off of my nose. I don't like to use the hood on my rainjacket because I depend on my ears to navigate and listen to traffic, so it generally collects on my head when it rains a lot and finds the path of least resistance and helpful gravity, down my nose and face.

I went on second trip, which was great since I got to take a nap. When we went out it was just sprinkling. When we got where we needed to be, it was still sprinkling. As I waited for the person in my group before me to go, it ceased to sprinkle and started to pour. Needless to say, by the time Velvet and I got back to the van after our trip, we were both absolutely soaked.

We did mostly practicing street crossing to try to convince Velvet to take initiative and go into the street when I tell her to go. It's hard to do this, especially when I'm trying to trust her that she's not hesitating for traffic issues by the method of intelligent disobedience. She did very well, and we're definitely progressing. We've got some ideas on how we might help her, and me for that matter, and so we might work on some things, especially when we go to New York City tomorrow.

Because it was raining, we did our street work for a short distance and then did inside work in the courthouse--stairs up and down, elevators, and metal detectors. She's a very cautious dog, and she didn't miss a down staircase or an up one. She also did perfectly in navigation in and around small groups of people.

Overall, the trip went well ... I just wish she would pick a spot to pee and just freaking pee, especially in the rain. When we got back, we stood out there waiting for some pee action. She squatted four times, but ... nothing.

I hope I get some new extra towels, because I had to use both of them to get us both acceptably dry. I still look like a drowned rat, but before, I think I looked more like a drowned hippo, and hippos are hard to look drowned. It's probably a bad analogy, but I think a picture, no matter how badly composed has been painted.

This afternoon we'll work, thank goodness, in the mall, so no outdoor work this afternoon. Back this evening.
 

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