Monday, October 18, 2010

Real Fear.

My kids don't remember a day that we weren't at war with Iraq or Afghanistan. Ponder that for a moment. Any kid under 12 does not remember a day we weren't at war and yet I'd be willing to bet precious few of them have had to sacrifice anything because of it. So you have an entire generation that believes war comes with no real sacrifice. How frightening is that?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Saturday Morning Waffles

Happy Mother's Day!

I think it’s fair to say Mom’s generally don’t get the credit they deserve. Given that it’s Mother’s day on Saturday I did the most practical thing a guy could do on Mother’s day for his wife. I let her get out of the house, far out of the house, a couple hundred miles actually, in Chicago. Now, partly this was because my sister was having her bachelorette party, but I’ll take some credit as when she asked if I’d mind if she went by giving her a strong message. GO! So she’s out having fun with the girls in the windy city and I’m back home managing two precocious kids. It’s a lot like being a Drill Sergeant, with a little less authority.

Now, as any Mom can tell you a big part of managing a household is feeding it. I’ve actually seen this first hand, as every time I come back from military training it seems like I’m constantly helping out in the kitchen. Well maybe not constantly. Let’s say often. Periodically? Fine. My WIFE is in the kitchen constantly. I help out, but don’t spend nearly as much time there as she does. Part of this is efficiency. It takes her half the time to cook and clean as it seems to take me, and my attempts to cook/clean/put away almost always result in an eyeroll.

Now it’s not that I don’t like cooking. I just don’t have a whole lot of practice with it. Also, most of my cleaning abilities are simply drying dishes. I can make you a mean sandwich. My grilled cheese is top notch, and my kids say that my mac and cheese is amazing because I make it with luv (they have been taught to say that). I also possess some mean Grill Skills but there ends my cooking ability.

My Wife on the other hand is an excellent cook. She can whip up pretty much whatever you’re craving for, and she’ll do it in the healthiest way possible so you don’t even have to feel guilty about it. She’s pretty meticulous too; she plans out meals a week in advance which cuts down on food costs so we only buy what we need. Normally this is great, because she’s cooking. But she’s gone, and I’m cooking.

This morning I made waffles.

It was actually the first time I can remember making waffles. I’m sure I made waffles with my Mother at some point. But that was a long time ago, and I believe the memory was lost during the fourth round of shooters on a Friday night my junior year of college.

I was given very good instructions the night before by my wife over the phone. She had already left you see, giving her plausible deniability. She told me where everything was, and told me I’d be fine. I was not as sure about that as she was. Her- “Just follow the directions sweetie.”

Me - “I can’t find them.”

Her- “I think they’re on page 76. I’m not sure, I just open the book and there it is.” Of course she does.

They weren’t actually. Those were the pancakes. They were on the next page over, “Ok I got them. I think I can do this.”

“You’ll be fine…” She then proceeded to let me know she bought bacon. We tend to get bacon every Saturday. I usually cook that actually. Our microwave has a button.

Later I went to bed and did not dream about waffles.

My kids of course woke at their normal time, about 6:45. As I had been up till about 3:30 talking with my brother the night before that was a bit early for me. They were kicked out of the bedroom. However guilt set in as I knew I had a breakfast to make, so I was out of bed by 8. No rest for mothers and certainly no rest for a daddy trying to do what mom does.

Kids were busy on the computer and I set to getting out ingredients. I took a look at the directions. “Makes 6 waffles”. Six waffles? That’s not very much. I can eat six waffles myself. I better triple that. Six cracked eggs later I look at the directions again. Two cups flour. Two cups? I haven’t added milk yet. And if I triple that there is NO WAY it’s fitting in the bowl. When my wife does this it fits in the bowl. Hmm.

I’ll take out two eggs and just make a double batch. Guess I’m having eggs this morning.

I finish following the directions filling the bowl quite literally to the rim. Thank goodness I only went with a double batch. I find the beater without trouble and whip everything up. That part makes sense. It’s a power tool. I’m supposed to know how to use power tools.

Meanwhile I have the waffle iron heating up. The directions said to do that and I’m eyeing it suspiciously. It seems like it’s taking a long time for me to finish with the batter and I’m wondering if it’s good to leave it plugged in. I finally decide that at college they always had them plugged in so it must be fine.

Batter done, my daughter comes in and tells me I’m supposed to use the plastic ladle to put the batter on the iron. “That’s how Mom does it.” But then I won’t know how much I’m putting on. Never mind. I have to impress the daughter. I use the ladle and close the lid. My daughter leaves the kitchen satisfied I know what I’m doing. Good thing too, since the latch has popped open and I’ve got batter spilling out all over. I obviously used too much. Batter spews forth from the sides like lava from an active volcano. I try to re-latch it and end up just holding it together.

The light on the iron comes on. Uh…. What’s that for? Is that the timer? It wasn’t on before. As I think about that I realize I haven’t yet set the timer on the microwave. The directions said five minutes, but I’m been fighting the volcanic batter flow for probably a minute now. I set the timer for 4 minutes and hope. The light on the iron turns off. I still have a good 45 secs on the microwave, but something tells me I should be done, so I open the iron.

Ok. That doesn’t look right. Two waffles look more or less fine but the other two have somehow split in half and are on both the top and bottom of the iron. I try to pry them off with a fork and it takes a good deal of effort. Pieces and chunks of waffle go all over the counter. Good thing my daughter left, the counter looks like a battle zone. Three waffles didn’t make it, but their sacrifice was not in vain. I salvaged one. It is…let’s say extra crispy.

I look nervously at the directions that say something about putting oil in the iron, but only if it’s not a non-stick pan. I look back at the iron. That’s non-stick, though from my last attempt I wouldn’t have been able to tell. There are still bits of waffle stuck to the iron. Unless I scrap the heck out it, it isn’t coming off, and I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to do that to a non-stick pan. I sigh and try again, using considerably LESS batter.

I also add Bailey’s to my coffee.

The light goes on, and then later switches off. Yeah that’s definitely a timer. These waffles turn out ok, though it’s obvious I could have used a bit more batter. I continue this process as I start the bacon. Cooking the bacon makes me feel a bit more confident, as I push the bacon button and then the 4. Why couldn’t the waffles be like that?

The kids come up. My daughter does indeed see the catastrophe that is the counter and looks at me quizzically. I tell her I used a bit too much batter and shoo her into the dining room. I surrender bacon, syrup and whip cream and continue making waffles. Happily the kids seem to like the waffles well enough but they don’t seem to be eating very many of them. They finish, eating 3 waffles apiece, and I still a have half a bowl of batter left, 6 waffles and two eggs. The double batch seems less and less like a good idea every time another set of fresh waffles appears. I finally resolve to freeze those 6 at a time and start throwing them into the freezer.

Finally finished, I fry up the eggs quick and have a monster breakfast an hour and half after I started. It’s excellent, and I do enjoy it, even though the kids have used up all the whipped cream. I eat quickly because I have to clean up the kitchen. This takes another good half hour. Looking at the clock, it’s almost time for lunch. No problem, I can do sandwiches once the kids are hungry.

I have conquered waffles! I fed the kids and there is a mountain of waffles in the freezer that can be used to feed the aforementioned children later in the week! Huzzah! Ok, what’s for dinner tonight?

I check the list.


Oh thank God.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Prepare to be assimilated.

Most parents look forward to passing on their favorite things to their kids and I am certainly no different. Therefore the last few days have caused considerable joy for me.

It started on Saturday when my kids asked to watch the Anime TV show Slayers. As my Austin crew can tell you this is one of my favorite anime shows of all time. How do they know this? I subjected the poor gents to 1 and a half seasons of it. I say subjected as it’s more of a kid’s show then some of the more serious anime fair (Fox actually bought the rights but never aired it, fools). They soldiered through it, good friends that they are. I exposed my kids to it years ago, but they weren’t really into it. However, there seems to be a resurgence of interest as they not only asked to watch it they were asking for a specific SEASON and EPISODE. Truly I could not contain my joy. To add to this the very next day they asked to watch My Neighbor Totoro. They’ve seen the anime film easily 25 times (it doesn't hurt that it has a bus that is a cat). I’m surprised they haven’t worn out the disc (which would make both myself and them cry). Lisa just rolled her eyes and asked if I was enjoying the fact that I my kids were asking for anime, which of course I had to respond yes. Even when they started rewinding parts to giggle uncontrollably (which normally drives me nuts) I had to smile because they were giggling and re-watching one of my favorite shows.

But does the assimilation into geek-dom end there? Oh no. Most of you know I play World of Warcraft, a few of you know my daughter plays as well. And yesterday I was finally able to get my brother playing. You would not believe how excited my daughter was to play WoW with her uncle Eric. It was all she talked about. Heck, even though she didn’t end up playing in the same area (she’s much higher lvl) she was thrilled that she was able to talk to him on the headset. And my son, who previously wasn’t interested in WoW much at all now wants to play so he can play with his uncle too. He’s even suggesting that we need another computer so all three of us can play at once! I’m not quite ready to make that jump, though it did provoke discussion between Lisa and I as to when we should start thinking about getting the kids computers.

In the mean time I may have to increase my WoW gaming time so that both Hunter and Savannah get to play with Eric and I. It will be tough, but it’s only fair. ;)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

All the cool people have one.

Grrr. Almost a month since my last post. That doesn’t fit with my intended update schedule, which was/is supposed to be at least weekly. It’s not like I haven’t had the content to write about either. This past month has been a veritable smorgusborg of events, which in retrospect seem entirely too much to have in just one blog. So, instead of rehashing things in the past I am going to push forward, ignoring (or trying to) the fact that I missed out on more than one amusing opportunity.

So, what is interesting at the moment? Well currently I am enjoying that part of my job is embracing new media, so I spent some of my time at work today browsing the web, twitter and facebook.

This actually was a bit amusing as unbeknownst to me I had several followers on twitter that were merely companies trying to get me to follow them. I also had the some individual following me who went by the title of animestalker. After doing the due diligence of checking out this person’s site I discovered that it was some individual that posts recent releases of anime titles. But animestalker? Really? In what state of mind was this person when they thought that title would be a good idea? And for that matter how did these people and companies even find me? I suppose they mined the interest part of my profile, but I’m still not terribly certain how they thought this would somehow entice me to buy their products. I sure as heck wasn’t interested in following the twitters from a random cheap arcade game site. So the companies got blocked and I am back to only three followers; my best friend, my cousin and a stalker (because all the cool people have one).

Friday, March 27, 2009

Near Death Experience

So I have this PFC who doesn’t drive. Well he does, but he didn’t here at Ft. Lewis until recently. The way he tells it he only got his current license to get residency in the state he plans to live in once the deployment is over. All well and good I think. But we’re short on drivers so I figure that that he should start driving. I figure I’ll be an evil genius and MAKE him drive, thus improving his confidence level. This was probably not the wisest decision I’ve ever made.

The short 20 minutes it took to get from the barracks area I felt like I lost a good year off my life. He’s more than a little A.D.D. and you can totally see that in the way he drives. I believe I saw the future in that short span of time, as I clutched the handle on the door turning my knuckles white and tried to pump an imaginary break. Heaven help me when my kids have to learn to drive and get learners permits, because if it’s like this, my wife may need to do it.
During this nerve wracking experience it was discovered that he did indeed get his drivers license when he was 16. How I’m not quite sure, but he passed. So theoretically he has 2 years of driving experience. I’d really like to know where that experience went. I’m convinced he then did a brain dump to make room for his ridiculously large vocabulary. He went on to admit that he had couple cars, one of which crashed. No kidding? I am not shocked. The Staff Sergeant in the back seat was quick to point out that cars don’t crash, DRIVERS do. This did not decrease my stress level.

So after experiencing, riding the curb, timid starts from stop signs, rolling stops, physical CONTACT with the curb and tail gating a BUS, I’m driving from this point forward. My Driver’s Ed instructor would be proud.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Save the SECRET Squirrel

Ok, part of what I do involves SECRET stuff. Not TOP SECRET squirrel stuff, but SECRET stuff none the less. During my first deployment I wasn’t really keyed into all the operations that were going on. Part the reason was because we weren’t doing a lot, and partly because I didn’t realize I NEEDED to be. I figured public affairs lives in the public realm rite? So my SECRET computer pretty much gathered dust and was periodically flipped open to plan the occasional VIP visit.
Now is a completely different story though. Almost everything I do is on SECRET computers and sent over SECRET networks. This becomes an issue when we have to send out press releases because nothing on a SECRET computer can travel to the non SECRET realm. Oh you can transfer data from non-SECRET to SECRET but once it hits that SECRET comp it can’t ever go back again. This leads to some interesting dichotomies. For example, no recordable media is allowed where I work every day. No phones, No lights, No motor cars, not a single luxury. Well ok we have lights, and internet. INTERNET. Open source, no restrictions Internet. But it took FOREVER to get cameras in here, and don’t even think about bringing an IPOD. Actually I take that back. You can bring and IPOD, but you have to label it SECRET and leave it here. Seriously, it’d be a SECRET IPOD. Part of me wants to go buy one just so I can say I had one. Of course, then I’d have to leave it here and it would have to be wiped and cleared by G6 (Computer Ops) and G2 (Intel).

There’s serious concern about SECRET squirrel stuff getting out, and that’s important, but I seem to remember the restrictions being a little well, let’s say easier to understand, and there weren’t as many issues. For example: If it’s media that can’t be wiped, like a disc or (god forbid) paper you have to destroy it. Discs get shredded. SHREDDED. G6 actually has a disc shredder. I think it can chew through BONE. Paper goes into a blue bin for destruction later. Theoretically it gets burned. Don’t mix the unclassified paper with the classified stuff though, BAD things happen. They apparently don’t play well together. That and it makes more work for somebody so we can’t have that.

Once I get back to St. Paul I’ll be doing most of my work via open source internet. But because so much is now done on the SECRET side I’ll have to go to a secure room at least once a day to check email and get instructions, that I will then have to memorize because I won’t be able to take ANY of that material off that machine regardless if it is classified or not. I suppose it’s for the best, the SECRET SQUIRRELS kept there need company.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Anger doesn't last

I recently read a blog I'm following. The blogger mentioned not having any anecdotes about his childhood, which is amusing, since I'm fairly sure he has interesting memories and or learning's, he just hasn't taken the time to analyze them. Personally, I recall very specifically a day where I was extremely angry at a person who shall remain nameless. I remember exactly where I was on my paper route. I remember telling myself that I wanted to make sure I remembered how mad I was at the time. If I had the ability to talk to myself from that time I'd probably be surprised that I can remember that day, some 20 years later. My younger self would likely be disappointed that the anger that he so desperately held on to had faded. I like to think back on that day periodically to remind myself that getting angry is easy, but staying angry is hard, and I believe, not worth it.