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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 3/1/09 - 3/8/09

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to." ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

I'm seem to be suffering some sort of insomnia. I've not gotten more than 3-4 hours' sleep per night this past week, except for one night -- a night off -- where I made things worse by sleeping right through till almost morning. This is bad because I work nights here.

So I'm living that quote above. I remember once learning that if you cannot sleep, your body can still get rest by just remaining still in the dark.

That's easier said than done. There are several contributors to the insomnia -- working night shifts is a start. Also, I think as I get older I'm developing an oversensitivity to caffeine. Over the past 2 weeks I've been compensating for the lack of sleep by consuming more and more caffeine: diet sodas, coffee, chocolate...

Yesterday, because we were showing around some visitors from the U.S., I needed to stay awake all day after working overnight. So I consumed some 2 large coffees, 2 or 3 cans of Diet Pepsi, ahem, Pepsi Diet, and also this beverage called "Rip It"...and energy drink that's provided to us in the dining halls here. Really. You will see on this website that Rip It "Fuels Our Heroes"...

Then I turn around and try to go to sleep before all that caffeine works out of my body. So even though I was playing Patricia-the-Bobble-Head in the meetings -- as were our visitors who were suffering horrific jet lag, I would lie in the dark and be alone with my thoughts and frustrations.

So after my 2-3 hours sleep Friday evening, I awakened at 11pm with a resolve to go into work and not consume any caffeine during my shift.

I did not do well. It was horrible. I must have faded in and out several dozen times. I hadn't been this tired since Timmy was a baby, and I certainly hadn't felt this tired doing critical Air Force work in over a decade! I'd be sitting at my workstation, staring at weather charts, and out of nowhere it would be 10 minutes later. Did I fall asleep? Was I just staring at the computer screen? The good news was that I didn't miss any of my tasks during the shift, but I certainly looked foolish swooning all over the workstation is alongside a high-traffic pathway and who knows who saw me.

(My boss here is now a Facebook friend and might be reading this -- hey Matt! Don't worry, everything got done!)

The good news is that I thought I would have had a blinding headache, but I don't. I think getting the caffeine out of my system is all I need to do, and I will stick to one good-sized coffee per day, 1-2 hours after I awaken, as I typically do at home.

I'm barely awake enough to finish typing up this blog entry, but I have about 30 more minutes on the clothing in the dryer.

Yes, I'm currently doing my own laundry. I'm living in Rose's dorm and I get to do my own laundry! As you might remember from my previous post about the laundry, although I thought I would absolutely LOVE the idea of laundry service, it's not all it's cracked up to be and I'm thrilled to get to do my own this morning.

Also, the civilian wireless connections on this base have been giving me a lot of problems, so I'm limited in my blog posts for now to e-mail only. In other words, I am able to e-mail text to my Blogger account and it posts automatically. I'm also about to set up the ability to e-mail Twitter updates, which tie into the Twitter widget on the right side of the blog and my Facebook status. These posts are also auto-forwarded to Facebook.

Anyhoo, enjoy this blog post and I hope to come back to you soon with some fresh photos and an update on Howie!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009


So many of you know and love our Howie-the-Wonderdog.

From Howie

From Howie

Howie apparently blew out his knee while running around in our backyard on Tuesday night. We’re guessing he was chasing squirrels, they are the bane to his existence! He was hit by a car while chasing a squirrel in 2002. He now cannot put weight on one of his hind legs. We ended up cutting our weekly webcam session short Tuesday night when the boys alerted Dave that Howie was walking funny after coming in from the yard.

Dave took Howie to the vet Wednesday and was told that Howie’s knee was “blown out” and he’d need surgery to repair it. The vet used an ACL injury analogy that you often hear associated with professional football players.

And even with the repair, we will have to be careful with him for several months.

I talked to Dave on the phone today so he could explain to me with more detail what’s going on…he’s scheduled the surgery on Monday. Dave will also have to explain to the boys what will be going on with Howie, and that it’ll be very very important that he not exert too much pressure on his sore leg after the procedure. Dave will have to carry Howie quite a bit.

I’m very distraught that this had to happen while I’m away…I’m definitely hoping for the best, from what the vet has said, this is a routine injury and is a routine procedure to repair him. Dave seems to have the situation under control…I wish he could just have a normal week. I don’t think there’s been a week without crisis, illness or injury since I’ve left just after New Year’s!

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This Week with David Brinkley...I mean, with Major Mom

I've laid low from the web lately. Partly on purpose, partly because the WiFi hotspot has been acting strangely. So here's a summary of what I've been up to this week (omitting job-related stuff, obviously):

First off, a friend from when we were stationed in FL came over from a nearby base for a visit. She came over two Fridays in a row -- Friday being her day off. The first time she came was to see a couple of us, and by her next visit, 5-6 other people had caught wind of her first visit and convinced her to spend the entire day on our base, catching all of us as we were migrating through our various shift schedules. Yes, she's that popular :-)

Her name is Kasi and we had a great time together in Florida. Here is a picture of the two of us in front of the dining hall, one of the few places we're allowed to be photographed:

From 2009 02 27 Kasi_Patricia_AUAB

Just like how I have to wear civilian clothing when I go off base, she had to also for her visit over to here. Kasi's been training for numerous triathalons when she gets home to the Washington, D.C. area this summer and her fit lifestyle and new boyfriend have been doing her very well!

On Monday, I got to take another trip off base, this time with my colleague on the weather night shift, Mike, and the night shift JAG, Brad. The point of the trip was to give Mike, our relative newcomer, a windshield tour of the city. Unfortunately, we had another pesky duststorm and we were a little limited. We went to the Villagio Mall again, and did some driving around downtown, and had lunch at a lovely hole-in-the-wall diner-type joint in the 'burbs.

Meet Brad. It turns out he's also stationed at Offutt and lives in a neighborhood very close to ours. We arrived the same week and I really enjoy talking to him -- he's one of the coolest JAGs I've ever met! I apologize for the picture of him stuffing his face, but I more want to point out the mixed dips and flatbread we had with lunch. This was SO GOOD!
From 2009 03 02 Doha_BradMike

And here I am enjoying it too, but you couldn't see the mixed dips as well:
From 2009 03 02 Doha_BradMike

We also enjoyed a "mixed meat" grill, which was an assortment of lamb, beef and chicken kabobs, served with vegetables and more flatbreads, as well as chicken "shwarmas", which are like chicken lettuce wraps. When all was said and done, it came to about $8 per person for an incredible amount of food!

I had some sleep issues this past week. In part from my off-base trip, but also in general, some temperature changes and some back problems posed challenges. For about 5 days straight, I was getting 4-5 hours of sleep per night. It used to be just once a week or so...such as after a trip off base and we'd get back sorta late. But after 5 days of it, I was a zombie by Monday night's shift and I had a pretty tough time staying focused while on shift.

Thankfully, my sleep on Tuesday was wonderful, and I was able to get 8-9 hours of rest, and was so happy to see my boys on the webcam early Wednesday morning.

For the first time, Timmy cried while on the webcam and it nearly snapped my heart in two. He said the reason he was upset was because Daddy and I kept talking and he wanted to tell me something, but usually he can use his words to express himself that way, so the tears were definitely building up for some time.

So many other folks here with young children have told me about their kids having tearful episodes on the webcam right away, so I was considering myself pretty fortunate...they were right, it's pretty emotional when it happens. Timmy was pretty strong, though, he took himself off the camera for 2-3 minutes, and then he came back to us with a big smile on his face, and he told me about his new friend at child care. Unfortunately, I didn't understand his new friend's name that well, it sounds foreign, like "Najoon", but I did understand when he said his new friend's name's first letter is "N" and the second letter is "J". So maybe it was "Njune?"

Timmy also told me I'd been gone 56 days. According to the count they're doing, I'll be gone 44 more days, but I think it'll be more like 39 if I can help it. I won't have any exact information until April, but based on what I'm seeing with the inbound/outbound flight schedules, I'm encouraged that I'll be away for less than 100 days...

The temperatures are on the rise here. We got up to 93 last Saturday before noon (Feb. 28th), but then a duststorm came through and plummeted the temperature a whopping 12 degrees! But with the wind it made quite the difference. We're still in a cool spell, but I think by this weekend it'll be consistently in the 90s every afternoon. Unlike Iraq and Saudi Arabia's hot, dry weather, we're close enough to the Persian Gulf that we can get a bit of humidity here, too. I see my uniforms needing to be washed a lot more often, I was soaked in sweat just walking from work to my dorm at 8:30am on Saturday.

This upcoming week brings several diversions that definitely helps with the routine around here. Tomorrow I get to move into Rose's dorm room while she gets a 2 week vacation. Rose is assigned here for a year, so it's one of the benefits of commiting oneself for that long. Another perk is that her dorm is more like a suite hotel-type accomodation. I'll take some pictures when I move in...I'm very much looking forward to a semi-private bathroom and kitchenette, a dinette set, a small easy chair in the room, and limited in-room Internet access. It's government Internet, which blocks many sites, such as my blog, but I'll be able to get into e-mail much easier.

Also, we have a number of visitors coming in from the states this week to visit with the weather teams stationed in the Middle East. As one of the few token reservists here, I've sought some advice from my commander and Senior NCOs as to what I should/shouldn't discuss in terms of reservist issues. To be honest, we don't have much -- we're an easy bunch, but I hope I get a chance to voice our concerns.

Such diversions to the schedule significantly help my attitude here. This past week was my toughest yet in terms of keeping my spirits up. I started eating poorly (no veggies or fruit, too much dessert), wasn't motivated to exercise, and was frustrated from the lack of sleep. Those three factors together were toxic to my attitudes about everything else. I was decidedly crankier and folks started to notice. I think the sleep and eating have been improved, and today I ran 5 miles and did some bicep/chest weight training. I feel great right now!

Time for post-workout shower and lunch! Taco bar at the dining hall -- I make myself a Moe's style burrito!

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Updated List...Books Read on this Deployment

Books Read on this Deployment

1.) The Marching Season, Daniel Silva: 16 Jan 09
2.) Angels and Demons, Dan Brown: 20 Jan 09
3.) Deception Point, Dan Brown: 25 Jan 09
4.) The Other Boleyn Girl, Phillipa Gregory: 3 Feb 09
5.) Marley & Me, John Grogan: 5 Feb 09
6.) Cruel and Unusual, Patricia Cornwell: 11 Feb 09
7.) Point of Origin, Patricia Cornwell: 21 Feb 09
8.) Black Notice, Patricia Cornwell: 1 Mar 09

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