Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Houston we have Contact!

Greetings from the Ranch!

I'm online and I couldn't be happier. I am finally blogging from my wonderful new (old) office at our new (old) home. We've named the new pad Happy Tails Ranch as we now live in the country on 10 acres and as I mentioned prior are remodeling a 100 year old farm house. Yea, it's going really slowly but that's more money related than anything as we are doing 80% (feels like 120%) of it ourselves.

An update on the remodel. Well, 007 is currently running more electrical line to add more outlets to my office and the "dog's room". I sure hope he gets a light setup soon as I can hardly see my keyboard and the damn saw he is using is LOUD! I already have a headache. It is cool though how skilled he has become with electrical wiring. He's really good.

Well, we are getting closer to the Sheetrock being done. It takes a long time and lots of hours to get the walls smooth. 007 is getting really good at that as well. He's got one corner going into the bathroom that is super square and smooth I find him admiring it from time to time. I have to admit I admire it too!

We have had snow the past few weeks off and on. It gets super cold, snows, and then the next day it hits 60 and all the pretty snow melts! It's enough to piss me off. I don't understand why it just can't stay warm or cold, damn global warming! The ranch looks amazing in the snow almost like a dream postcard, for me at least. I love living out here so much I can hardly stand it. I sleep so well as it's so quiet and peaceful. I keep telling 007 that this old house has such a cool vibe and it's true it does.

How are we surviving the remodel process well it's been up and down with a lot of growing pains on both our part to be honest. However, we are really doing well as a result. I guess sometimes we each need to step out of our comfort zone and knock out a wall! You would be amazed at how it changes your perspective. Slowly we have come to grips with the fact that things won't happen instantly. That was really hard for me to deal with but some how some patience finally hit me. Now I enjoy the small victories more and have stopped obsessing over the big picture. I still want it all done but the little things seem sweeter!

Well, I should stop rambling from the ranch as this post has no real direction except to say we are finally online! Woo Hoo!

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods;)

So what does it take to get online in the sticks?

A closer look, the big one is internet and the small one is direct TV. I think our neighbors think we're spys.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Looking for my lost shaker of salt

Wasting away again in Margaritaville...

To bring you up to speed I am currently sitting by the pool at a lovely Bed & Breakfast in the FL Keys, it is wonderful! The temp is a chilly 78 degrees with a light breeze. We heard from friends they received snow back in KS today! That makes me smile.

My pal 007 is currently reclining and watching clouds. It's a hard life. Did I mention I'm here for work. Yep, gotta love work travel. To be fair I did indeed do some work today all day. Granted we moved the meeting outside to soak up some sea air but still it was work. Add to that the goofballs I have to spend my work time with. Ugh. We got most of the things we need to get done, which means I should have a short day tomorrow. I'm crossing my fingers on that one

In case anyone is wondering, the academy nomination interviews went very well this past Saturday. Whenever I feel that the younger generation is being lazy I get to meet these dynamic kids and I must eat my words. I am happy for that.

Who stands out? A few kids. One young man in particular. He did not make it into an academy last year but instead headed to K-State, joined ROTC, and reapplied this year. He also picked an engineering major. I interviewed him last year and boy what a year makes! He was so READY and any of the academies will be very lucky to have him. He of course wants West Point. When our panel of judges reconvened he was my groups top pick and I think will be the Congresswoman's topic pick as well. We really sold him to the rest of the judges he impressed us that much.

Then there was the kid, always one in each bunch the little nerd just like me. This kid had it in the bag though and stole my heart from the moment he walked in. He had on an astronaut tie. Yep, that impressed me. I'm a dork what can I say. The reason it impressed me was he was daring enough to let his personality shine through. I like that and I can respect that. He of course wants to work for NASA and go into space. Not a bad dream. He is hoping for MIT but realistic in their statistics for admissions so he is also aiming for West Point. They want him and he's already accepted just needs a nomination, which of course he will be getting!

The final kid was a bittersweet case. I hate when a sterotype enters the room. I really hate it and my fellow panel judge who reminds me a lot like BD brought it up. The other judge is Pete and he's a dynamic individual with humble beginings. He now works at the Pentagon. So having Pete on the panel is a ton of fun for me and it also leaves no room for stereotypes from our candidates. He won't tolerate

So in walks our kid and he's dressed in some kinda pimp suit. It wasn't good and Pete was already annoyed. Then the kid only speaks above a wisper, not good. We tried to talk with him and put our "issues" aside but it wasn't happening. Then the kid sealed the interview when he asked if he could go pro out of the academy. Yea, it can happen 007 informed me. However, thats not what any of the academies are looking for. Never mind the fact that this kid doesn't come from any impressive school, he's not being recruited so this "idea" is just that an idea.

Pete tried to reason with the kid but he wasn't about to hear any of it. Sad because his attitude got in the way of one hell of a mentor. Pete still gave him his card with the hopes that the kid would wake-up one day. No, he will not receive a nomination. He's not ready nor does he have a clue what it means. That was our last interviewee. So we ended on a sour note but it still was a great experience and I am very proud I got to be a part of it all.

Guess tomorrow we will have to check out the beach and see if I can turn another color than red... probably not likely.

A photo opt down in Key West. Yep that is where we flew into after three plane rides. Oh, air travel is so much fun these days!

It's 007 and his very own palm tree! To bad he has to leave it behind in the keys.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh the Irony

Irony... The next few weeks will be just packed with it. To bring you up to speed this coming Saturday I will assist as a panel judge for students hoping to attend a Federal Service Academy. Each aspiring student must obtain a US Congressional Nomination from their Representative or Senator to move to the next round. Then they wait and hope that an academy selects them.

It wasn't too terribly long ago (white lie) when I was on the other side of this panel in the hot seat hoping and praying that the judges would pick me. I got lucky or something (not sure) and I did receive a pass to the next step in the process. Then an academy picked me as an alternate candidate. A few weeks later they offered me an actual slot and by July of 94 I was on my way to NY for day one of my plebe year.

The irony comes into play though in many forms. My academy experience was less than blemish free and it ended prior to graduation. At the start of my JR year I ended up transferring to a state maritime school, with a similar maritime focus and military program. Why? Mostly out of necessity but there is more to that story than meets the eye. I would say it was just the way my life was meant to unfold.

Also, because if my life had not diverted from my carefully laid path I would not have learned more about myself at the age of 22 then most folks will ever know. I learned what it feels like to get taken down a peg, to hit a wall, and to rise from the ashes. Hard when your used to being the top dog and a success at most of the things you've tried.

With the transfer came a new direction and that included a new major (Environmental Science) in the sciences, which for that alone I am forever grateful. I also learned about academic preparation and why it's important. Finally I learned not to take the chances in life for granted. So it makes me an interesting panel judge don't you think?

We receive copies of the candidates packets ahead of time to read over. I can tell you a lot about some of the students because I was one of those overachiever doing everything students. It was my dream to go to an academy and I did everything that was told of me to be a great candidate. So I can pick those kids out of the mix. I can also tell you the ones that are doing it because Mom and Dad think it's a great idea. However, there are those students that you get no real feel for and those are the ones I always love to meet. You never know what's going to happen and I LOVE surprises.

So this will be my second year serving on the panel. Last year was a real honor and I would like to hope that I helped the students with their goals. Because of my background I try to assist a student who on paper may appear to have a harder time at the academy then another. My only goal is to hopefully steer them away from the early pitfalls I faced. Nobody really told me how hard I was going to have to work. HS had been rather easy so I guess those around me assumed the academy would be the same. However, on paper I know I was not the ideal candidate and would have benefited from some academic guidance. Hindsight and all... I also try to stress extensively that if this is Mom and Dad's idea then bail now. It's not worth it.

You might wonder, how did I end up on this panel? Well, because of my Mom and Dad. Irony wouldn't ya say?

(Side note my Dad ran for state house of representatives and happened to attend a meeting where he met a staffer for our Congresswoman. The staffer was working on academy stuff and my Dad just happened to mention I attended one. She called, we talked, I'm on the panel.)

If you are interested in attending a service academy check out the following links.
Service Academy Forum - An online forum for hopefuls, attendees, and parents.
United States Military Academy at West Point
US Naval Academy
US Coast Guard Academy
US Air Force Academy
US Merchant Marine Academy