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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom

You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 6/1/08 - 6/8/08

Saturday, June 7, 2008

About to Explode

No...not me. My poor husband.

He's at T-6 days and counting till his PhD dissertation defense. I won't even TRY to explain what he's up to, but let me just refer you here if you also have a 100lb. brain and would like to learn more. He last updated the homepage on 18 Oct 07, but he uploads all his research result graphics as he makes them.

So he's working 12-18 hours per day, every day, probably between now and Thursday evening, when Dave's parents arrive for Dave's defense and Father's Day weekend. This started around June 1st. His attention is purely on last minute calculations, literature reviews and final preparations on his hour-long dissertation defense Powerpoint presentation.

That's it.

"Dave, Father's Day is next weekend, what do you think your Dad would like?"

"Father's Day? When is it?"

"A week from Sunday..."


We took about 3 minutes to come up with a nice idea, and I will take it from there. But since it's Dave's Dad, and the two of them talk at least weekly, along with e-mails, sometimes Dad Vollmer might mention something he'd be interested in and we'd do something with that information.

My point here is that in the 16 years since I've first met Dave, I've never seen him so focused! He's barely making time to eat!

So let's have some fun here!

How many of you knew that Dave is an artist??? Raise your hands!

Not many, not since we moved to NC. Dave hasn't done much of any drawing except for some model railroad diagrams lately. It's unfortunate.

Dave's mind would wander in classes when we were at Penn State and while we were working on our Master's degrees. His mind doesn't wander like that anymore, I guess.

As a joke, when we were in grad school in 2002 I did an online "art showing" for our M.S. program classmates.

Now, in honor of (hopefully) Dave's last week as a PhD candidate, I've transfered Dave's art gallery to our new family homepage and I present it here to you.

Enjoy and smile!

PS: You'll see pictures of Dave in the gallery in which he's wearing the same shirt. That's his Air Force "Class B" uniform, a short-sleeved light blue shirt with epaulets on the shoulder.


Thursday, June 5, 2008


For the uninitiated in the Air Force/military lifestyle, Dave and I are what you might consider "middle management". The tasks we do often involve having to tie Airman issues with "the bigger picture".

Example: "Ma'am, I'd like to deploy to Iraq and work with the Army." In this case, the Airman might never have been to Iraq or worked with the Army.

Me: "Well, the Pentagon just put out policy that all weather folks deploying to Iraq have to have Battlefield Airman training, so once you're through that training, we'll see what we can do."

[What the #$%^ is she talking about?]

Here's my point -- lately I've been bringing a lot of bad news to my Airmen from higher-headquarters directed policies that all tie back to Secretary Wynne and General Moseley having to trade in people for aircraft parts.

1.) As a reservist, you can only be activated approximately 3 out of every 4 years. After you've worked 1095 out of the past 1460 days, you have to deactivate. This is an effort to save manpower. This year we've had to tell 3 exceptional members of our reserve unit that their honorable service to the Global War on Terror is no longer possible after September.

2.) Reserve officers now have to wait extra time before becoming eligible for promotion to the next rank. This is an effort to save money.

3.) About 2 years ago, the Air Force underwent a MASSIVE personnel chop exercise that resulted in about 40,000 Airmen getting cut. Dave even had to wonder briefly if his job was secure. Air Force Weather took a lot of their cuts through their Reservists. There simply aren't as many jobs as there used to be. Another attempt to save money.

4.) With Active Duty taking massive cuts, the Reserves are so overfilled right now, a lot of opportunities for promotion and career growth are stunted. I've had to explain to 3 Air Force Sergeants why "now is not a good time to pursue that military commission you've been working so hard for". There's no room for new officers in weather right now.

At the same time, we're trying to modernize our force. Keeping our eyes on other world threats, the Air Force has been very aggressive in purchasing the new F-22 stealth fighters...some of manpower cuts has helped fund that.

Unfortunately, two things have taken a big bite out of the potential cost savings of cutting 40,000 Airmen:

1.) Rising Fuel Costs. Imagine how much fuel our aircraft take!

2.) The Army and Marine Corps needing more personnel. Before they actually received that additional manpower that President Bush promised in the 2007 State of the Union Address, the Air Force stepped in and helped out with some of the ground requirements. The Air Force is STILL helping with tasks such as convoy vehicle drivers and third-country national escorts.

So, in this Airman's opinion, we haven't gotten very far with these efforts.

Over the past year or so, our Air Force leadership has really been aggressive in making their cases for more F-22s and trying to show that we can perform all these missions with 40,000 less Airmen and minimal increases to our budgets.

Between their bold rhetoric, along with other things that have shined an ugly light on the Air Force = resignations today.

I fear that things in our Air Force are about to get much worse. Here's hoping the interim leadership exercises good judgement!

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

You Pay HOW MUCH for Your Habit?

This week, New York state raised their cigarette tax to the highest in the nation.

They basically tacked an additional $1.25 per pack onto the price.

New York City added an additional tax as well, so cigarettes in NYC will cost an extra $1.50 compared to yesterday.

I'm speechless. Some New Yorkers will be paying more than $10 per pack!!!

There are still smokers in New York? How do they afford it?

Let's say they smoke a pack-per-day -- that seems to be an average. We'll use round numbers to keep it easy. So $10 per pack --> $280-310 per month --> $3360-3720 per year!

Hm...let's see what else costs ~$3500 per year:

A year of in-state tuition at Fayetteville State University: $3245/year

(Appalachian State University ~$2200/year, NCSU ~$5000 year)

Hey wait, we're talking about New Yorkers:

A year of in-state tuition at City College of New York: $4000/year!

This guy paid $3500 to have the exterior of his house painted. (We paid less than that, by the way, this guy was taken for a ride).

How about New Yorkers who also drive...look what they're paying for regular gas!

My father-in-law is a smoking New Yorker who drives a small SUV. The gas prices and cigarettes alone probably suck an extra $200 per month out of his budget than even 3 years ago.

In conclusion, if a New York smoker were to put aside that $10 per day for his/her pack of cigarettes look at what he/she could purchase or achieve!!!!

Many of you know that I've run a similar numbers game with driving our Prius vs. our Odyssey. I just looked at that blog post and saw how gas was $3.29 per gallon on March 11th. Prices are now 20% higher so you can tack 20% onto all the numbers I'd run there.


PS: Wanna see how much YOUR state taxes cigarettes? Looks like South Carolina's the place to go. For gas, too.

PPS: Hey South Carolina -- if you aren't taxing gasoline or cigarettes, how ARE you getting your money???


Monday, June 2, 2008

The BEST Banana Nut Bread!

This isn't the best picture of my latest baking creation, but hopefully it captures the quality of this recipe!

Today I made my favorite banana bread recipe. In this case, it ISN'T a Pioneer Woman recipe.

It's from my handy-dandy Betty Crocker of my wedding gifts from a billion* years ago.

*Billion = 12 1/2

Anyway, I had 3 old bananas that I wanted out of my fruit basket before I populated it with fresh non-spotted ones from Harris Teeter. (Semi-useless factoid: The ethylene gas emitted from ripe bananas hastens ripening of other fruit). So I picked up some buttermilk at the store today, and found a small stash of chopped walnuts leftover from my holiday baking.

I use a 9" long bread loaf pan, so all the batter goes into the one pan. Let it cook till the edges are VERY brown so the center is cooked through. One loaf allegedly makes FORTY-EIGHT servings. I try, but the best I can do is 40 very small pieces. Today's loaf will cut into about 36, I think.


Slip n slide

We're back at it's been a personal mission for me to get the water flowing at a bare minimum while still giving the kids the slippery surface.

I think a lightly misting sprayer hose at the top at a bare minimum with misting sprinkler in the middle is our winner.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Marbles Children's Museum in Raleigh

Maryann did it again , she beat me to the blog, so we'll start with her post.

Update: Here are my pictures! These are a combination of pics from my Canon Digital Elph and my iPhone camera. Can YOU tell which is which???

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