Quick and ugly

As the title suggests, this should be quick and ugly.

I’m deployed and away from home this holiday season. I’m not a fan of it. I really miss my wife and the boy.

Football is nearly over for most of the NFL and I think my team may not survive the weekend. In all honesty, it would do them better to lose and move up a few picks in the draft because the defense needs some new talent ASAP.

I’m enrolled in a history class right now (the cold war) and it’s taking up most of my free time. I need to better prioritize my time to make sure the gym happens more frequently. Today was the first day that gym won over homework. Luckily, I think I’m ahead in regards to my homework.

The internet is poor here (but functional) so video calling has been difficult. It’s been good enough that I can see my family.

That’s it – more in 2-3 months…

Falling down

Monday 1700 – I was getting ready to go fly that night and my back started to spasm on me. I got my stuff together and hobbled over to the squadron. The longer I stood or even moved the more it hurt. I knew it was going to be a long night. Walking or sitting was quite excruciating

Tuesday 0200 – I made it to my room and dropped my bag on the floor. I took 800mg of ibuprofen and some tylenol. I hoped that when I woke in the morning things would be better.

Tuesday 0800 – I crawled out of bed – literally, on my hands and knees in an effort to go to the bathroom. Leaving my phone beside my bed on the charger would prove to be a critical mistake. I made it to the bathroom after 5 minutes and attempted to stand. My back gave out – completely out. I couldn’t move at all. Any movement led to excruciating pain. I could hardly breathe due to the pain.

Tuesday 0820 – I finally moved three feet from the spot on the floor to the desk where my computer was located. With great effort I grabbed it and placed a phone call over the internet to my wife. She didn’t answer. I tried her desk. She didn’t answer. I surely didn’t want to be stuck on the floor all day long. I tried one of her friends at work who directed me to the lab where she was located. I let her know what was happening – she was concerned. I had her start calling everyone at home because I couldn’t get close to any phone numbers for anyone local. It was on the other side of the room and it might as well have been on Saturn.

Tuesday 0850 – After a few calls back and forth she finally reaches the Director of Operations in my home squadron. One of the schedulers knew someone else here at school and contacted him. He found housekeeping and got into my room and called 911.

Tuesday 0910 – I was fairly coherent for the amount of pain I was dealing with. Firefighters/medics showed up and started to get my vitals. I almost forgot the name of the current President. They had to roll me on my side to get me on a backboard – there was no way in hell I was going to walk out of that door.

Tuesday 0930 – The county EMT’s showed up and took over from the base Fire Dept. They finally lifted me up on the backboard and got me on a gurney. We got to the ambulance and they got my vitals again. My blood pressure was a “little” bit higher than normal.

Tuesday 1000 – After a five minute drive to the ER they got my through the doors and onto a bed. Now they had to get me off the backboard. I was completely unable to fight the muscles that were causing spasms throughout my body. They gave me a shot….

Tuesday 1030 – The local First Sergeant shows and we start talking – I can still barely move

Tuesday 1100 – They give me another shot – I can still barely move

Tuesday 1200 – I have finally willed my body up but I can’t bend enough to get off the gurney and into a wheelchair. The doc at the ER is quite perplexed because what they gave me should have worked

Tuesday 1230 – I am given some pain meds and we make our way to the flight doc on base. The shirt, seeing that I was having a pretty crappy day, bought my lunch. It was greatly appreciated.

Tuesday 1300 – I struggle to get out of the car and into another wheelchair – my body does NOT want to relax.

Tuesday 1400 – I finally make it to my room and take all of the meds they have given me. I’m unsure as to how I’m going to get to the bathroom later or do… well, pretty much anything.

Thank god for technology – I don’t know how long I would have laid there on the floor without a way to get in contact with somebody… anybody. There are so many people to thank… I had fallen and I simply could not get up. I’m on the mend and able to walk about a quarter mile at a time but it’s going to be a few more days of recurring pain. Hopefully I can get health, return to flight status, fly two more times, and then depart from here. I can only hope.

I’m doing quite a good job at this

Someone asked me a few weeks ago why I had failed to write anything here. My response was that all of my time was spent on everything else and that this was the thing at the very bottom of the list. I guess that spending time in front of a computer is the lowest priority I have. I remember a time when I spent all of my waking hours in front of a computer – I vaguely remember being quite single and having zero responsibilities. It’s odd how things change.

I’ve got nothing else – I’ve been busy as heck but I don’t want to write about it now.

Africa

I’m flying out of Germany on any random mission that command assigns to my crew. A few days ago we got a mission that went to Morocco. We were to fly to Marrakesh and then onward to a really small military base to drop off some cargo for a USMC/Moroccan exercise. When I think of Morocco, I think of assasins armed with blades like this. koummyaWe didn’t have a reason to land at Marrakesh other than to stop and say high to two Moroccan Colonels that wanted to welcome us to the country. They were very excited to meet us. It was rather odd. We took off and head to the next location and then things got strange.

I met a few marine liaisons who were to help us unload the cargo. Soon, 30-40 Moroccan military were milling around taking a gander at the plane because they had never seen anything so big. It was such a big deal, the general from the base was there to check it out too. We normally offload our cargo with a K-Loader (a flat topped vehicle covered with rollers) or with a forklift. On the back of the jet I had two tandem pallets (pallet trains). They showed up with a single forklift (with hollow tines) and an old USAF ammo trailer (MHU-141). Looking at what we had to deal with I told them there was no way we could offload with the equipment they had. We were going to break something, hurt someone, or do both. The phone calls between our command and control, the US Embassy, and their military began at this point. At one point they offered to bring out something that “might” work but they would have to put it on a plane and fly it in. We did our best guess on what they had and we knew that it probably wouldn’t work. It was going to be about 20 inches too low to be useful. It was probably also broken. It was probably also going to take four hours instead of 50 minutes.

They insisted that they could fly the other equipment in but that led us to another problem. We were parked on the runway because we were too heavy to park on the parking ramp or on the taxiways. They wanted us to allow them to land with us on the runway… I told them we couldn’t do that. They wanted us to move to the unsafe area and I told them I couldn’t do that either. They wanted us to break down the pallets and move them piece by piece… most of the pieces on the pallets were in excess of 800 lbs. They wanted to bring in a crane and try to cherry pick the cargo out of the back of the jet… again, I knew it wouldn’t work. They wanted us to fly to another base and try and download there… we couldn’t because it wasn’t suitable for us. They tried to bribe me to get the cargo off the jet… but I knew that it was impossible.

After a few hours of conversation we flew back to Marrakesh. We sat there and were met by a US Embassy official. More time was spent on the phone and our flight manager (back at command and control) said he had never seen so many generals on the planning room floor. The Morrocans wouldn’t let us stay there, we couldn’t download our cargo there, we were having problems getting clearance to fly other locations, we were having problems with weather in other locations… simply put, we were in limbo.

Eventually we were sent back to Germany with all of our original cargo. Our max duty day is 24hrs. We used all but 15 minutes of that day. Africa is a strange continent – it’s the first time I’ve ever been there. It sounds like everyone else that has been there in the past has experience similar difficulties. This isn’t a built up area, they aren’t like most of Europe or the populated parts of the Americas or Asia. It’s going to be difficult to do this in the future but it sure is entertaining.

Unprecedented free time

I haven’t flown a mission since I arrived here so free time has been a commodity. We rented a car and decided to check out the sites while we had a chance. We are unsure as to how long we may stay here so we figured that we would take advantage while we had a chance. We started with a trip to Luxembourg and the Luxembourg American Cemetery (where Gen Patton is interred). We also made a trip to Bastogne to visit the Belgian memorial to the war efforts of Americans and then we drove further on to the Ardennes Military Cemetery where over 5,300 Americans were laid to rest.

patton site

I think we forget about the scope of what Americans were willing to do for our allies. Nearly 400,000 Americans gave their lives for their country in WWII. Every American dealt with rationing, increased taxes, and all manner of hardship so that we could fight this war.

Today, too many people complain that it is too difficult to fight a war and that casualties and losses are too great. I’m thankful that medicine and technology is allowing us to lose fewer service members. Our losses today aren’t overwhelming – the losses of Americans in the 40′s were staggering by comparison.

Deployed… or something like that

When most people, military or not, think of deployments they probably envision places that have no vegetation and acres of tents, barricades, and fences. I’m not in one of those places for a deployment and I’m making quite a few enemies. I’m not doing anything to incite their hate aside from being selected to deploy to a nice place while they are elsewhere. I’m also going to make a decent chunk of change, have the opportunity to travel, and will carouse at every possible turn. I will, of course, do my job whenever they call. I’ve been gone for a week and I haven’t done it yet. It’s going to be a strange “deployment” and I may never be this lucky again. Needless to say, I’m going to take full advantage of this opportunity.

What is on your list?

Oooh – thought provoking



Double brewday

A few weeks ago I tried to do something different on on my brew day. I planned and brewed two separate five gallon batches in an 6 hour brewing session. Normally, I have an assistant around to make sure I don’t forget anything and to share in some home brew throughout the process. On this occasion, I was all on my own. I started with my interpretation of African Amber, a pacific northwest classic. After spending some time searching the inter-webs to get some inspiration, I decided on the following recipe.

13.5 lbs 2 Row Malt (UK)
1.5 lbs Munich Malt
1 lbs Crystal 60L
.5 lbs Carapils
.75 oz Centennial @ 60 min
1 oz Cascade @ 2 min
2 oz Cascade Dry Hop (14 days)
White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale

Mash @ 152 for 60 min / Sparge @ 163 *temps from Beersmith

Est OG 1.059
IBU 25
SRM 13.4

Based on my current equipment (a single brew-pot and a 10 gal cooler), I batch sparge and for once I hit my OG dead on. The beer sat in the primary for 10 days, secondary for 14 days, and it’s been bottle conditioning for the week. I had some issues with fermentation and I didn’t hit my expected FG of 1.012 and ended up at 1.020 In the end, the flavor is very close but the ABV isn’t quite where I wished it would be. The beer sat in my fermentation closet and temps were 70±1 so it was right in the range of the yeast. I’m not exactly sure what happened but I feared raising the temp too much and bringing it out of normal range for the yeast. I either had a problem with the mash or the yeast didn’t reach its desired attenuation. I normally create a yeast starter but I figured with the low OG of the beer it wouldn’t be an issue. In this case, it might have been.

My second beer doesn’t fit any description well. Its a Rye beer that sits somewhere between pale ale and IPA.

11.5 lbs 2 Row Malt (US)
2.5 lbs Rye Malt
1 lbs Carapils
1 lbs Crystal 80L
1 oz Amarillo @ 60 min
1 oz Centennial @ 4 min
1 oz Willamette @ 2 min
1 oz Amarillo @ flame out
White Labs WLP060 American Ale yeast blend

Mash @ 150 for 60 min / Sparge @ 161 *temps from Beersmith

Est OG 1.056
IBU 40
SRM 12.1

The jury is still out on this beer but I can guarantee you, it’s not going down the drain. I haven’t brewed with Amarillo and I may have overdone the rye but I think it’s a good beer – it’s just different from anything else that I’ve had. The recipe will need some tweaks but I’m sure I’ll brew a variation of this again. I overshot my OG by a few points and ended at 1.059 with a FG of 1.017. Again, I think that if I had created a yeast starter this beer would have finished a little lower.

By the time I had had the yeast pitched in the second batch I was so tired I didn’t want to clean anything up. It was nearly 1AM and I had an early start the next day. I knew that leaving it behind would lead to contamination so I dutifully cleaned all of my gear. I had, luckily, been cleaning throughout the night so I only had a few funnels, a couple of hoses, and a dirty brew-pot to scour. My goal next time, instead of trying to brew two separate batches is to brew a 10 gallon batch of beer. Based upon the way I do things, I can’t have a “big” beer but summer is right around the corner and a batch of lawnmower beer would be appropriate.

Boudoir Shoot

Back in September I had the opportunity for a boudoir shoot with two  very lovely ladies. It went so well that I decided to open it up and set up a day full of mini boudoir sessions! I am very nervous but very excited! I know tomorrow will be fun and I hope to get some more amazing photos! Until then, enjoy a few shots from back in September!

 

Amanda-(21-of-42) Amanda-(4-of-42) blog blog-2 blog-3 blog-4 blog-5

On the road again

We’ve been a busy bunch for the last month. Then again, who isn’t absolutely swamped with things to do during the holiday season. To add to the confusion, I’ve been trying to get my requalification done for my job. Since I was out so long from hurting my back, I went overdue for my annual evaluation. I was so far overdue I had to have a few over the shoulder flights before I could get my evaluation done. As of a few days ago, I completed it without issue. Of course, I’m typing this from a lodging room in southern Germany and I’m nowhere near home. In a few days I should make it – its been a long trip. I’m not sure when I’ll leave again but I know that Jessica has her hands full.

The boy is starting to talk when he feels that it is appropriate. Of course, this is never when it is helpful to anyone. Lately, when he really wants something he stands in front of you and screams and makes you play the guessing game. You can ask him if he wants certain things (milk, juice, a cracker, of a blanket) but he makes no indication as to the actual cause of the problem. As you can imagine, it’s a difficult stage to deal with.

The dogs aren’t helping out. As our free time has been decreased dramatically and the sky remains dark for more than half of the day our opportunities to exercise them have decreased dramatically. They are simply obnoxious. One of the really bad habits they have is that from the moment you wake up they’ll harass you about food. In doing so, they’ll wake up the sleeping monster in the next room. When there are two of us at home, it can be managed. When I’m gone, Jessica has to wrangle dogs, boy, and preparation for her day. With a one year old it’s very hard to leave him alone while you hop in the shower to get ready.

The holidays were, from my perspective, as stressful as ever. With everything else that was going on, I didn’t really have the time to enjoy the festivities. It seemed as though it was simply one event after another. I know now, that I want to make sure that I’m not trying to get through a flight evaluation on top of everything else the holidays have to offer.

Jessica was… surprised recently with a new DSLR. Hopefully it will allow her to expand her skill and make her business grow. It does eat into her free time but she loves doing it and she gets better each time she clicks the shutter button.