Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On the Road Home! And a New Foster Malinois

I'm in Houston, Texas at the same Motel 6 that I stayed at on the way here.

After leaving Mississippi (where it was raining) I stopped in Louisiana to pick up a foster Malinois. There are over 25 Mals needing foster homes right now and some of them were located between MS and CA. At the time I decided to take her, there were none in CA. Since I felt like it as time to do my part to help needy Mals again, I picked one of the dogs who needed a foster home and who was on the way home.

The lady who currently had her turned out to be her owner. She is giving her up (and her other Malinois) due to financial reasons. She was nice enough to drive down to meet me along my way, rather than me having to go out of my way to pick her up. Her owner seemed a bit sad to see her go. She is up to date on her shots and is on heart worm preventative. She was being taken care of, but she had to go to a new home, so the owner did the responsible thing and called resuce, then kept her until a foster home (me) could be found.

About the dog- she is a female, under 2 years old. Her current name is Bandee but she does not respond to it for me so I might change it. She was an outdoor kennel dog. The owner's husband was a sheriff and had a Malinois for work. I think that is how the family originally got "into" Malinois. The got Bandee and three other puppies from someone who bred a litter and was selling the pups for $100 but no one would buy them, so ended up giving all for to Bandee's owner. Bandee herself was bred twice but the second time was an accident. Doing the math I'm thinking she was pretty young for the first breeding, which is generally not advised.

I'm told Bandee is good with kids and loves water. The owner said there isn't anything I shouldn't do when I asked since it is better to find out the easy way (being told) that a dog doesn't like something such as having her feet touched, rather than the hard way (being bitten.)

I think Bandee did not get very much socialization because right now she is subdued in her new surroundings and a bit skittish. She didn't want to come out of her crate and I had to drag her into the motel room (she walked in willingly the second time.) The loud toilet flushing scared her. I've tied her to the table I'm working at so she can't wander off since she is not housebroken. Even since I've been sitting here she's warmed up a bit. I think once she is more comfortable she will become more energetic. Now that she is settling in she is enjoying my petting more. She's had a big day- leaving her house, going for a long car ride, and now staying in a Motel.

Some other random observances:

She rode quietly in the car with just a few whines.

She likes treats but did refuse them a few times.

She has not pottied yet- maybe she is not used to doing it on the leash.

I hope she gets along with the other dogs.

New name suggestions have been Omelet (because of Bacon), Recliner Chair (Or Laz-E Boy), and Waterbed (since Bob has Sofa in his name) but I don't really care for any of those. A more serioius suggestion I considered was Beanbag- Bean for short since her name already has a B sound. Also possibly Beanie or Beenie. I just also thought of Bonnie.

She is very small. Her owner said 50 pounds. She seems much shorter than Dottie who is 22.5 and her body type fits her size (unlike Dottie who is like a string bean.)

She tips her head like Pie does when I have her attention and talk to her. She also tipped her head back and forth in the car when I first turned on the audio book.

She has already taken a dislike to the camera.

I bought her a pretty pink collar and a tag with my phone number. Hope I don't have need of that!

Tipping her head in a very Pie like manner. She is very close to Pie's coloring but the resemblace stops there.

Checking out the bed. Probably wondering why there are cigarrette burns on a bedspread in a non-smoking room.

This is what she thinks of me so far.

She is pretty.

Last Day of KOM Training

Today was the last day of the 8 week Knowledge Operations Management course at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi.

We started off with out last test. The test had some odd questions that did not appear to be straight forward but because I had studied so much I was able to take what I knew and figure it out. I scored another 100. Between the two courses (the first 2 weeks I was here was Information Management- KOM was actually only the last 6 weeks) there were 170 questions on the tests. I missed 2 questions total. My score for the first course was 100% and the second course was 98.6%

I am proud of that score. I am also proud I was able to help the other students on the hands on computer portions so much. I finished each hands on portion quickly and was able to offer help to students waiting for instructor help. As the weeks went by the other students started calling out my name for help, rather then waiting with their hand raised for the instructor, who was at times busy with other work.

There were 2 classes graduation at the same time. Between those 2 classes, the instructors give out one Top Graduate award. There was a MSgt in the other class who had a perfect score so she got that award. Then they can also give out some Distinguished Graduate awards. To get this award you have to have over a 95%, fulfill the "whole person" concept, and they will only give it t0 10% of the class at the most. Between the 2 classes I think there was just under 30 students.

I really wanted the DG award because not only did I study hard for it, but I also wanted to show my bosses back at my home base that I took the training seriously and am a hard worker.

Sadly, the instructors did not pick me. The picked the Top Graduate to receive another DG award (which seems wasteful) and the TSgt from my class who was the assistant class leader and instructed people to take out the trash and wipe down the boards. He was a very nice person, and personable also, so perhaps that was viewed favorably. One of my supervisors at work told me that I don't socialize enough and that doesn't look good. And here I thought work was for working and being professional.

I also thought the other thing in my favor was I attended the mandatory PT, while the other prior service members in my class did not. But the instructors do not know who attended and who did not...

I am not bitter or sour that I did not receive the award, just sad. Now I wish my percentage had been less so I had not been eligible because I feel it looks very bad to my bosses to have been eligible but not been picked. Will they think I screwed up? Maybe I was sloppy in my appearance or disrespectful to the teachers?

That's the way life goes sometimes. Everyone has a similar story. My boss did say in an email he is looking forward to me coming back so I hope that means he feels like I am a valuable employee who does good work.

My official certificate and three level skill badge.

Note I am posing my the file cabinet. That is what I do as a KOM. File. So much different than my last class were I actually had action photos of myself doing cool stuff like coming out of the tear gas chamber, plotting the direction of chemical plumes, using all different kinds of nuclear, chemical and bio testing and detecting equipment and wearing all kinds of protective gear. My last job was a lot more glamorous. Now I pose next to file cabinets.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Post About Running

I've never been a fast runner. In order to do decent on the PT test I have coming up, I have to do the mile and a half in under 15:22. If I do it in 15:23- 16:22 (I think) I will lose about 3 points, so I'd better have an extra skinny waist. The run and the waist measurement are given the most importance. The sit ups and push ups are worth much less.

15 minutes for 1.5 miles should be easy. But for some reason it is not for me. I can run for 4.5 miles, but only if I go slow. I know you can improve your speed by doing intervals and I've been doing that the entire 2 months I've been here (with some days just doing normal running) but I don't think I've seen an improvement.

My first run here the weekend I got here was just over 15 minutes. A few weeks ago I think I had 14:30 or thereabouts. A very small difference for a lot of work. But now my times have gone back up!

I think perhaps the problem is the humidity. This past Sunday I went for a run on the path along the beach. The air was sticky and heavy and the outside temperature was 80 degrees with 60% humidity. I knew running the track would be unbearable and I hoped being so close to the beach would be a bit more pleasant. I know 80 is "nothing" compared to the temps AZ or the SCV see, but 1) I'm not acclimated to it now 2) you have to consider the humidity and 3) Ventura County is not AZ or the SCV and my body has become a weather wimp.

My goal was to maintain a pace in which I could finish very close to 15 minutes, without walking. Recently I've been doing intervals where I run the first 1/2 mile "fast" (which takes about 4 minutes, 30 seconds) then I'm forced to walk or die- run the next 1/2 mile after I recover, walk again then finish up the last 1/2 mile. This is not a happy experience. Chest pains can never be good. Should I push through, or listen to my imagination which is telling me I'm going to give myself a heart attack?

I started off at a decent pace. The heat was melting me. I tend to be very ladylike in at least one way- I usually hardly sweat at all when running. But the humidity has me sweating like a horse coming down the homestretch. I hit 1.1 miles (thanks GPS watch) and the nausea forced me to walk. It was around 1 or 2 in the afternoon and I hadn't eaten lunch. I had sweated out whatever liquids I had in me. I walked for a bit, ran/shuffled, walked then ran. I finished in 16:18, under the second time limit.

Today, I was determined to do better. It felt much cooler, I had lunch, and I had water with my lunch also. The humidity was not quite as bad so I did not become as dehydrated. I felt much better and did not once think I was going to pass on. I looked at my watch and saw I had to pick up the pace to meet my 15:22 goal. I was at 1.49 and about 15:15. I ran faster, but I was confused. Maybe the heat was getting to me after all. I kept going, thinking I was never going to make it, running fast and faster. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I realized the distance I was at 1.57, is past 1.5 and I could stoop. The time was 16 something but doing the math I probably did make my goal. And if I realized how close I was I would have been able to squeeze out an extra second or two to make sure I made it.

There are 2 lessons learned.

1) What you eat or drink before the workout does create a big difference. The run on Sunday was thwarted by lack of fuel and dehydration.

2) The weather also plays a big role for me. Heat and more especially humidity makes my times go down in a significant way. I hope I get to run in the morning and that it is nice and cool. Last time we tested at 2pm, which was unfortunate because not only was it hotter, but it was also after lunch- but not far enough after that my food had settled. If I run in the morning I do not have to eat first.

A quick amusing story- I passed some guys going the other direction and one guy tried to give me a high five telling me I was doing good but it was so unexpected I dissed him... Opps. Those guys looked like runners should- tall, skinny, and with nicely defined muscles (they had their shirts off so I could make a good assesment.) Maybe I was too busy checking out their physique to have time to realize why his hand was out. I always feel especially awkward when running. For some reason it makes me feel extra short and wide. The nice guy could probably tell I needed the encouragement.

Today I was styling it in my official PT gear and non- official canvas hat with the full brim (the one I do agility and hike in) and chin string because of the wind. Yesterday I had sunscreen on but no hat- today no sunscreen but hat. I'm not sure that it is ok to wear such a hat with the PT gear but I figured the Air Force does not want me to get skin cancer.

Looks like I'll have rain for the drive home. Drat.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Favorite Dog Pictures

It is 12:50 here and I can't sleep. (Now I'm done with the post and it is 1:13 and I still don't feel sleepy. I have to be up in less than 4 hours!)

Another blog asked us what our favorite dog pictures are and since I just went through the pictures I have on my laptop for the PowerPoint I did for class, I happen to have a few in mind.

The Best Picture Taken of Pie:

By S. White- shows how beautiful Pie is.

Maybe The Best Picture I Took of Pie:

I like this one because of the beach scenery and it demonstrates Pie's zest for life and and her zest for running. It looks like a big ol' grin on her face, although more likely it is a Pie pant. But we still know she was very happy.

Fancy is one of those dogs who does not like the camera, so I have to capture her in her "natural" habitat:

The lifted leg, the gazing off into the distance, hoping to spot something to hunt- this is what Fancy would do all day if she had the choice. And I also think the So Cal fall colors agree with her.

Dottie is hard to photograph because she tends to look goofy or silly. I like this action shot:

And this posed one is ok also.

I love how defined her mask is (for now- Pie's has blurred quite a bit.) But right now it looks penciled in with eyeliner. And her coat also looks very petable, plus, this is one of our usual walking spots, so it reminds me of all the nice walks we take.

One of Dottie's many outtakes- see what I mean?

This one by Mary Arango is a good one too:

Love the muscling. She was a bit younger in this picture.

One of my favorite "Pictures that tell a story" is this one:

Notice who is about to get run over while having a nice roll in the grass! Also notice who appears to be lurking and laughing behind the A-Frame.

I wish I had more I really liked of Fancy but as I said she is mopey for posed photos.

I take a ton of pictures so I could spend all night recapping my favorite and probably still not come to any definite conclusions. Instead I'll try going back to bed and see what happens.

Thanks for the fun blog idea Mia.

Earthquake Video

The big crack at the end moving back and forth is particularly amazing. In a scary way.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

No Subject

Nothing new to report... still excited about leaving soon. I checked out of the post office and the library and donated around 15 books and 2 DVDs so I didn't have to drag them all home with me. Of course none of the books I recently got as gifts nor the books I borrowed from anyone. Current count is 21 books read while here in MS.

Scroll down under the post under this one to read about my trip to the USS Alabama last Sunday. Blogger posts posts in the order that they were started, not the order they were finished. Also, Blogger is doing something extra weird with the photos and while I've always had to post them in reverse order to make them show up chronologically, that didn't work this time and they would be posted three in order, then the last 2 would get posted before the first 3. Frustrating. I moved the ones around when it really mattered (such as keeping pictures of the brig together) but other than that left it alone.

Enjoy! And if you are ever in Mobile, check out the USS Alabama, it really lets you see what WWII sailor's daily life was like. In my opinion, it was like being stuck in boot camp but worse. Worse because you were there for much longer than boot camp lasts and also your lives were in danger. It was much more cramped than AF boot camp. Once out of boot camp in the Air Force we could personalize our dorms, using non-regulation sheets and pillows (thank goodness!) But the bunks on the ship they had made up all had those yucky green wool blankets and stained striped pillows. Ugh.

Thank you, WWII sailors, for putting up with those conditions and keeping America free. (Of course also thanks to all the other branches of service also, but since this was a Navy day, it seemed most appropriate to thank them specifically.)

PS- Maybe being on a ship was seen as luxurious because you weren't slogging though the mud like someone in the Army. But I'm not sure I'd be able to be in that dark, cramped engine room while the ship was under attack, knowing that if the ship was sunk, I'd probably be going down with it. I was fine being down there with the ship safely tied up next to the dock, but it would be quite different if I was down there when there was actually a possibility of it sinking...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Almost Time to Head Home!

Yesterday was the one week mark. After I zip out of here faster than you can say "Bye Mississippi!" (since that is a long word) I will still have 2 more days (spent mostly in TX) before I get to see the dogs. On the evening of the third day I'll make it to ffluffy's house and the dogs! I can't wait. I hope the dogs are not too upset to leave ffluffy. Fancy and Dottie have transferred their affections to ffluffy. Pie is Pie and would probably be equally happy living with a mutated phyco alien. She's easy to please. Fancy is not, so when ffluffy started describing Fancy's behavior towards her, I was surprised and happy for Fancy. ffluffy does not want to give her up. Dottie has also bonded with ffluffy because when ffluffy handed Dottie off to her boyfriend Kiltman so she could go in the restroom, Dottie voiced her disapproval. And she's been living with Kiltman! But he does not interact with her. That goes to show that in order to have the most enjoyment out of your dog, you have to interact with them. If you leave them in your back yard, their personalities will never come out. I thought Dottie was over her separation anxiety (which only is seen when I leave her with someone else and walk away or tie her up outside) because I've successfully left her with my mom outside a store, and even tied her up with the other dogs outside a store with no distress. But ffluffy leaving her with kiltman was distressing.

Here are various photos ffluffy took over the past few weeks.

Fancy got to go on the most hikes. Here her feet are ready to be ground up in a grindy thing used by Native Americans.

Pie being walked by kiltman and deciding tugging is better. Turns out it was at an agility trial (she was not entered) but usually at agility trials when she is walked by herself that means it is time to RUN so she was probably excited. I like the crazed took in her eye.

Dottie behaving for kiltman. I'm impressed she sat so nicely for him.

Fancy having another snuggle.

I took a test on Tuesday and got another 100%. Average is 98% Hoping for Distinguished Grad but no guarantees because someone with more rank has a score very close to mine...

One more bit of dog news- Mal Rescue is overrun with dogs needing foster homes- even more so than normally. So I'm bringing a young female back with me to foster. She is in Louisiana right now. Named Bandee, supposedly good with other dogs and all people, even kids. More info after I meet her but if anyone knows anyone interested, leave a comment. No chance I'm keeping her because my next dog is going to be an old poodle. Malinios eat too much to have too many of them. Old poodles hardly eat anything. And you aren't tempted to train your old poodle for SchH. So if anyone can think of a name that starts with a B and is like Bloom and Blossom, I'd love to hear it. Flowers that start with B? Thought of Bud, but you wouldn't know I was talking about flower bud, and it doesn't fit the theme because it actually sounds masculine. My old poodle will be male. Have to adopt out Bandee before I can find an old poodle though.

USS Alabama Last Sunday

Do you ever get the feeling that time isn't in a line like most people think? The past behind us and the future a head? What if time is more like the multiverse, with the past, present and future all sandwiched on top of each other, co-mingling and existing in the same instance? We have memories of the past, which is where the idea "behind" comes from, but just because we have memories doesn't mean the past has left.

When I visit a historical site, sometimes I have the feeling that the past is still happening. That if I strain something a bit harder, I'll see unsubstantial figures flicker in out out of my vision, going about their daily routine, not seeing me, not realizing they are in their future and my present. Is this what ghosts really are?

Sometimes- not all the time. I had this feeling on the USS Alabama, but not the entire time I was there. Just for a moment or two. Or maybe I have it backwards, and time is as most people think it is, and it was ghosts I was feeling. There is a lot of history on that ship.

USS Alabama- now in Mobile Bay- a WWII battleship.

Is this the same type of aircraft I saw flying at the airshow?

Very big guns.

This projectile was taller than I am.

Crew sleeping area. Any large open space held these bunks. Mostly the bunks had been taken down but you could still see the hooks where they had hung up.

Head. TP is a nice touch.

Stall dividers are nice, too bad you'd be staring at the person across from you.

More of the washroom.

The brig.

No toilet or bench or anything.

A sad poster.

What one of the personal lockers for your stuff looked like.

An officer's room. Private and a real bed. But still very small of course.

All of the tiny offices and other such work areas like barber shop all had bunks in them also. You'd eat and work in the same spot.

One of the control rooms.

The captain's room. An informative sign informed us he never slept here, instead he always slept in the much smaller room right outside the bridge.

Captain's formal dining room.

A bottomless shaft that I avoided falling down.

All of the hatch covers had letters stamped on them that meant when they should be left open. Some were left open all the time for ventilation, some closed when underway or only when under attack, etc. The bottomless shaft was stamped X. I think that means- leave open so the less intelligent crewmen can fall in and we don't have to deal with them anymore.

Part of the engine room. My flash made it very bright but in fact it was very dark.

More of the cramped engine room.

Looking towards the back.

Looking towards the front.

Some of the tanks on display.

The bridge. You can see how thick the walls are by noticing the viewing slits.

I wonder if he WWII men ever thought tourists would be posing on the deck of their ship?

Door to the bridge showing not only the massive thickness but also the decay.

The captain's room off the bridge.

Is this one of those shouting tubes? When I found it it was closed but I was easily able to flip it open.

The visitor's center from my high perch.

Even though I was high up, I had still further to climb.

It was a long way down. I really didn't know how tall battleships were.

Aircraft on display. I was really high up.

But there was still more above me! This was the highest the public could go.

This part was blocked off but I glanced through the cracked door and spotted what looks like the flag holders for the semaphore.

Then I climbed all the way back down to the main deck. (It was a long way down.)

Back down on the main deck I crawled through a tiny hole into one of the main turrets for the huge guns. Again very dark and crowded.

Inside the turret with the flash on.

Back outside looking towards those same guns.

All the way at the front of the ship.

That is the hole I went into.

I was surprised the deck was wood. In the very front it was metal and all the other decks were metal, but the main part of the main deck was wood. I stepped in one section that sagged under my weight. Looks like it is time for another patch.

After exiting the Alabama, I went into the Aircraft hanger.

The CIA version of the SR-71. A-12 I think.

And the back end.

Anyone know what this means? And why the odd spacing?

Another view. (The SR-71 is my favorite aircraft, after all. This one is close enough.)

This is the type of aircraft launched off the battleship. There was no literature, but from what I figure they used a slingshot type thing to get it moving fast enough for take off, then it landed in the water and a crane was used for recovery back onto the ship. I saw a model of the Alabama and it looked like she had 2 of these aircraft.

A local Alabama resident who was a Marine stationed at the Pentagon on Sept 11 and was involved in the recovery donated his hazmat suit.

The obligatory "Katrina Damage" photo.

Onto the WWII submarine. USS Drum. This is not it. This is a replica of one of the the first subs, the CSS Hunley.

On the deck of the Drum.

Torpedo room.


This guy was quite a hero. Click on the picture to make it bigger and read his story.

Turns out a hatch is something involving a ladder and a door involves something you just step through so this is a door.

For escaping a sinking submarine. Not a very pleasant thought.

Back on deck looking towards the Alabama.

A funny helicopter.

The last display I viewed before leaving. The Calamity Jane- B-52 Bomber.

There was much more on the battleship especially that I did not photograph. Have to leave something as a surprise in case anyone plans on going for themselves (which I highly recommend if you are in the area.) Some of the other areas where the hospital surgery, isolation room, barber shop, laundry, dining area, soda fountain (with ice cream!) various other offices and control rooms, pharmacy, post office, basically anything you can think of that a hotel, office building, city or tank would have, because a battleship is all of those things- but crammed together and floating on the ocean, and getting attacked and fighting back.