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Showing posts from 2010

Are Fried Egg Sandwiches The Perfect Meal?

It's cheap, it's quick, and it's easy to make. From a guy's perspective, those are pretty much the criteria for a "perfect" meal. Just sayin' ;-) Seriously though, I love fried egg sandwiches. I make them in the morning when I don't have PT (not fun to run on a full stomach). I sometimes make them as a nice late night snack. And every once in a while, we even have fried egg sandwiches for dinner ... on those nights, I could probably write a whole separate blog post entitled: "how to feed a family of 7 for about $4". The version of the sandwich that I've been eating lately, I discovered sort of by accident, when I couldn't find the ham in the fridge on day. And because I sometimes like to share "recipes" here on the blog ... INGREDIENTS: 2 Eggs 4 pieces of bread Butter or Margarine 2 slices of roast beef shredded mozzarella cheese STEPS: Heat up the pan, and spray generously with PAM Put bread in toaster (

Three Books That Helped Me Learn To Play Better Poker

I've been playing poker for something like 7 or 8 years now. Back when I was first learning, we didn't have cool programs like the poker training network; so I turned to books as a way to increase my knowledge, and improve my game. Here are three books that I found particularly helpful: Small Stakes Hold 'em Winning Big With Expert Play Amazon.com Widgets This was one of the first poker books that I ever bought. And as it turned out, it wasn't even about the game I was trying to learn. I was playing no limit Texas Hold 'em, and this was a book about Limit Texas Hold 'em. None-the-less, I learned some very valuable lessons from this book .. the most important of which was when the "light bulb" went on for me ... Poker is about MATH My approach to the game has been entirely different ever since the day I came to that realization. I would highly recommend this as the first book someone new to poker should consider purchasing. And actually, along thos

What Are You Thankful For?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Hunt The Good Stuff. Now I'm a fairly optimistic person to begin with .. but I've found that taking a few minutes at the end of every day to really focus on the some of good things in my life, and all that I have to be grateful for, really does put me in a better mood ... and even more importantly, helps keep my stress level down during those inevitable times when "life" decides to throw a challenging situation my way. For (too) many Americans, the last Thursday in November is the one day of the year when we actually do consciously "hunt the good stuff", and give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. Why? Don't get me wrong, it's awesome that we have a day like Thanksgiving that reminds people to "appreciate". But ... Imagine how much more pleasant our world would be if we all did a bit more appreciating every day? By all means, take this holiday to get together with friends and family, tell peopl

Hunt The Good Stuff

So I've finished 4 days of the Master Resilience Training here in Philadelphia. One more day as a "student", then on Saturday we start learning how to teach it to our guys back home. I had intended to do some blogging about the things I'm learning in the course .. but upon reflection, this is probably not something that would convey well just by reading it on a blog (plus the course is actually copyrighted by University of Pennsylvania). So, I won't be making daily blog posts this subject. That said, I did have something that I wanted to share, and it's really kind of in line with things I've already talked about here in the past. It's called Hunt the Good Stuff. And basically all it is is at the end of every day, you have to write down (physically on paper with a pen) 3 good things that happened to you that day; and with each, a sentence or two of reflection (why did this good thing happen? .. What this good thing means to you .. What you can do to

Do You Believe in the Butterfly Effect?

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Ok, I'll admit the main reason for this post is so that I could share the picture of the Monarch butterfly that landed in our front yard the other day. ;-) But, it also gives me a chance to talk a bit about the idea that even little tiny changes in our thoughts and attitudes can potentially produce significant differences in the kind of results we get out of life. Kind of my "positive mindset spin" on the butterfly effect Napoleon Hill said: "Thoughts are Things" Every physical thing you see in this world, started as an idea/thought in somebody's mind. Some people say that our thoughts actually attract things into our lives. And even deeper, the type of thoughts that we have attract like situations and thoughts. Here's an example you can run on yourself to see what I mean ... Ever been having a really bad day .. to the point where you can't concentrate on anything else .. and things just seem to be getting worse and worse? And when you ask your

How To Be As Happy As A Baby

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Living with small children in the house, I'm reminded on a daily basis how simple life really is when you're a baby. Joey is just over 5 months old, and she has to be one of the happiest little girls I've ever met. She spends a significant portion of her waking hours laughing and smiling at whoever happens to be in front of, or holding her. It got me thinking. Wouldn't it be great if we could all be that happy, that often? I wonder what the "secret" is? Here's a start ... Babies are Interested in Everything! They're constantly taking in their surroundings; and learning from what they see, hear, smell and taste. They don't prejudge anything. Every minute is an amazing new adventure. Babies are Not Shy about Showing Appreciation for those they Love! Have you ever seen a baby's eyes light up, and the big smile they get on their face when they look at mommy or daddy? There is never any doubt at all about whether or not your baby is happy

Small Children and The Power of Laughter

Some people look at me like I'm crazy when they learn that at 41 years old, among my Seven kids is a 2 year old, and a 5 month old. It's not surprising. I've heard many parents openly express the thought that small children can drive you nuts. I'm not entirely unsympathetic to the idea. However for me, especially lately, my little ones tend to have the exact opposite effect. If anything, having young kids in the house is a bit therapeutic. Take yesterday, for instance ... a bit of background: We've got an inspection coming up at work, so the hours are getting longer. My brother's wedding is in a week, so we're getting ready to embark on a plane trip to Florida. And to top off an already stressful week or two, we had a couple of unexpected bills show up. So not unexpectedly, I arrived home at about 5pm in a bit of a grumpy mood. I was ranting and raving about some silly thing ... and Ana (proving yet again why I love her) was not ranting back, but simpl

My First Android Phone – MyTouch 3G Slide

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We finally broke down and got new smart phones from t-mobile. Ana has had her heart set on the mytouch 3g slide ever since she saw that silly commercial on the tv about being able to talk your text messages. As for me, I really wanted to wait until the new Samsung Vibrant comes out later this month, but in the end I just didn't have enough patience. Plus, after thinking it over, this phone, with the physical keyboard, is actually probably more my "style" anyway (I had a sidekick for about 3 years). And, just as a kicker, while I'm sure the Samsung is going to be a way cool phone, the little voice in the back of my head was screaming something about "never buy the 1st generation of any new phone" (the ones we got are the 3rd phones in the mytouch line). I don't really have too much in the way of a "review" to report just yet, as the phones have literally only been out of the boxes for a couple of hours. But so far, we are only mildly frustra

Playing With The Big Girls

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The other evening, the girls convinced me to go sit with them at the little playground behind our house, so that Jaiden could come ... Jasmine is there pretty much every day. Jaiden is really hitting her 2 year old "independent" streak at a full running pace ... especially when it comes to her big sister ... she thinks that anything Jasmine can do, she can do too. Unfortunately, Jasmine is simultaneously hitting her 8 year old "mean big sister" streak. Right now it's about 50/50. 50% of the time, she's still a great kid, and an awesome big sister who's very helpful and kind to Jaiden. However, with increasing frequency, she's also the big sister who will alternately tease and/or ignore her younger sibling. This image above at the park kind of illustrates the situation perfectly ... Jasmine and Jaiden had been playing together nicely, then one of Jasmine's friends showed up. Suddenly, as far as Jas was concerned, Jaiden no longer existed. P

How to keep a Toddler Quiet for Hours

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For some reason, my wife is not a huge fan of the big purple guy. As for me, I'm not at all ashamed to admit that I love Barney! ... especially as the parent of a toddler. To say that Jaiden is a "active" little girl, at just under 2 years of age, is a bit of an understatement. Lately it seems like it's gotten to the point where she gets into pretty much everything. So, as you can probably imagine, "watching" her can be pretty much a full time job. And since I've been known to enjoy my "goofing off" time, if I can find a way to keep her quiet, occupied, and out of trouble, I'm all for it. Barney fits the bill perfectly. It comes on PBS every day at 12:30, and you'd better believe we record it on the DVR. Later in the evening, usually while Ana or I is cooking dinner, Jaiden will sit for 30-90 minutes watching (and interacting with) Barney on the TV. She sings along with the songs, dances, and even talks to the characters. And the

Poker Bankroll Management - A Regular Guy's Perspective

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Let me start off by saying that I am not an expert on poker bankroll management. There are plenty of good resources out there, for determining exactly how much money you should have available for whatever type/level of game you intend to play. Instead, I'm going to share a few personal mistakes from a "normal" guy who plays relatively low stakes online poker. I strongly suspect that I am not alone in making a few of these errors. So without further ado, let's get to it ... First, a couple of "no brainers". This one actually applies to any type of gambling - Never, ever, ever gamble with money that you actually need for something else (like rent). If you find yourself in this situation, stop playing, and go get help. Now that we've established that we're only going to play with "fun money", the next step is to make sure that you load up enough cash that you can afford to lose, should you hit a run of bad luck. Along those same lines, I&

A Little Fun with Photoshop

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I love sunsets, and since my house is right in the Honolulu International airport approach path, we constantly have planes overhead. So, it's a natural picture combination. That being said, like any picture, sometimes these sunset airplane shots need a little help to become a bit more interesting. After playing around for a little while with this one, I think it's definitely more interesting, but I'm not too sure that's a flight I'd really want to be on ... Even so, it's today's Hawaii Picture of the Day . Aloha, Todd

What Happens When You Leave A Soda Can On The Car Floor In 100 Degree Heat

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Ok, so most mornings as I'm getting ready for work, I throw a couple of cans of soda in a plastic bag, along with various other essential snack material, to get me through the day. Well, apparently one day last week, one of my sodas "escaped" from the bag, and decided to hide underneath the front passenger seat of my car. ... where it sat for the past few days, in 100 degree heat. So then, earlier this afternoon, as I'm driving home for lunch, the Diet Mt Dew can rolled out onto the floor. I saw it, and thought "no big deal" ... until I went around a corner, causing the can to roll at an accelerated pace, and hit something on the bottom of the seat ... at which point it exploded! ... with a "bang" and all. Not really too big of a deal. It scared me for a second, and now I have a bit of a mess to clean up. But otherwise, it actually gave me a good excuse to write a blog post to go along with my project365 picture today. ;-) Todd

Why Do Kids Make Friends So Easily?

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We went to the big playground last weekend, and I swear weren't there 5 minutes, before the girls had two new friends. They played together for over an hour; laughing, giggling and holding hands as they went from slide to slide and bridge to bridge. When it was time to go home, they hugged and said goodbye. This isn't the first time I've seen something like this with my kids. I remember way back when we first moved to Tyndall AFB Florida in the mid 90s. Justin was about 5 years old when we moved into base housing. The day the movers came, and we got to the house, he immediately started walking up and down the street, knocking on doors. Whenever someone would answer, he'd say "I'm Justin, I'm new here, do you have any kids that might want to play with me?" Simple and effective. Justin always had plenty of friends. Contrast this with most adults ... Even just at the playground, while the girls were skipping around with their newfound friends, I w

A Weather Geek Photographer in Texas

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We had a pretty good line of strong Thunderstorms move through the Fort Hood area yesterday afternoon. Still no tornadoes, hail, or anything like that, but the "scenic value" is getting a little better ... As a self described "weather geek" (I'm one of those lucky people who actually enjoys what I do at work), this time of year, in the section of the country, can occasionally be pretty exciting. Although, yesterday I might have overdone it just a little bit ... I'd been watching the towering cumulus build up all day, and we actually got a pretty good thunderstorm just down to our South East a bit earlier in the afternoon, so I had a pretty good idea that we were probably going to get hit. So I'm sitting in the living room with Ana, watching tv, and I decide to go look out the window. The sky was getting really dark, really quick out to the west. I went over to open the door, and almost had it blow back in my face. I poked my head back in the living

Getting Air at the Fort Hood Skateboard Parks

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Justin has been skateboarding since he was about 8 years old, and we lived in Hawaii. I've been taking skateboard pictures for almost as long. Justin recently came back to live with us here at Fort Hood, and we were happy to discover that there are three skateboard parks here on the post. They're all relatively small. Nothing like the Hickam Skate Par that we used to go to in Hawaii; with it's street course, big half pipes, and two huge bowls. But, one of them is within walking distance of our house, and all of them are free. The one closest to our house is near the Comanche youth center. It can't be too bad, as the boy is there for a couple of hours every day ... along with many other kids, every time I've stopped by, ranging in age from 7 to 21. As I mentioned above, there are also two other skate parks on Fort Hood. One is in the center of the post, not too far from the hospital. From driving past, it looks pretty similar to the one we have here at Coma

Rent A Tire ?

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Okay, I know times are tough in many place around the country, but seriously .. "rent a tire" ? Every time Ana and I drive past this place, when just shake our heads. It seems like such and odd concept. Then again, I suppose that if you have no money, and bad credit, but need your car to get to work, it's probably good that an option like this is available. It just seems a shame that the reality in our country is that the less money you have, the more things tend to cost. (I would imagine that even people who end up owning their tires from a place like this ultimately pay 2-3 times what the tire would cost at normal retail). This isn't the only example ... This afternoon on the radio, I heard one of those ads for a computer, with no credit check ... just proof of a job. I didn't listen close, but I think you pay something like $75-$100 a month, for about 2 years! And I may just be cynical, but somehow I doubt you're getting a high end gaming computer for

How To Get Artificial Motion In A Picture Using A Zoom Lens

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Thought I'd take a day off from posting pictures of my kids. Today's picture is actually more of a "test/experiment" than anything else. I was sitting out front, and decide to take some pictures of this bush with red and green berries. After I few shots, I remembered a technique I'd read about, and have been wanting to try ... Make sure you have a zoom lens mounted on the camera. Pick a (distant) spot to focus on, then switch to manual focus. Zoom all the way out to the widest focal length of the lens. As you're pressing the shutter button, simultaneously turn the zoom ring from wide to telephoto. This gives the picture a motion effect, that kind of reminds me of the x-wing fighters taking off in star wars. This berry bush may not have been the ideal subject for this technique, but now if I do run into a situation where it really would create a cool picture, I've had some practice with it. Todd

Benefits Of Being An Older Parent – I Now Love Swings

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In some ways it's a little scary to say that I'm 41 years old and have a daughter who's only 19 months old, with another one on the way in just a couple of weeks. Maybe I'm already too old to be a "new" dad again. But on the other hand, there are things about being a parent now, in my 40s, that just seem so much easier/different than when I first experienced fatherhood as a 20 something guy. Today was a perfect example. I took Jaiden to the park behind our house, where we played for over an hour. She went on the little bouncy frog thing, tried to climb up the monkey bars, and slid down the slide more times than I can count. And when we weren't doing that, we spent a long time, laughing as I pushed her on the swing (picture above). Obviously Jaiden had a really good time ... but the best part is, so did I !!!! And that's the biggest difference between "then" and "now". There was a time when I used to "joke" (but it

Potty Training 18 Month Old Jaiden

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One of daddy's jobs during my two week recuperation period is to help my 18 month old daughter Jaiden with potty training. Tonight after dinner, she decided to show me where her potty is, and how much she enjoys sitting on it. lol, of course she didn't actually do anything tonight, but just knowing what "potty" means, and getting her to sit on it is half the battle won. And it's really even better than that, she already did a poop on her little potty about 2 weeks ago, while I was still in Iraq. I have to run in to work for about 3 half days next week, but after that, I'm off for 14 days. This is when the intense potty training will begin ... I think we'll definitely still let Jaiden wear her diaper at night, but during the day, I plan to bring her potty downstairs, and let her run around during the day without a diaper. I haven't decided yet whether I'm just going to ask her if she has to go, or whether we'll do the "sit on the pot

My Trip Home

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I'm sitting here at 2:30 am, in a hotel in Baltimore Maryland. I catch my final flight home to Texas tomorrow morning. I've been taking my pictures of the day this week, but my access to this blog was blocked while I was in Al Udeid Qatar (not sure why). So, I thought I'd take a few minutes to catch up again, with pictures from the past 3 days, during my trip home. 12 April: This picture was already posted on Facebook the other day, but I wanted to put it up here for people who only follow the blog. This shot was taken from inside the C-130, as they were loading the cargo pallet and getting ready for take-off. I like the looks on some of the guy's faces ... the dude nearest to me looks particularly happy to be going home. 13 April: My next stop was Al Udeid AB in Qatar, where I spent about a day and a half. Just about every Air Force person who is going into or out of Iraq transits through Al Udeid. We fly back and forth on contracted commercial airliners. Whi

The PT Reflective Belt

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Ask anybody in the military, especially those who are deployed, what they think about the reflective pt belt , and you will more likely than not be greeted by rolled eyes at best; or quite possibly a full fledged rant. Here's the rule ... Anytime it's dark, and/or low visibility, you MUST wear your reflective belt at all times. I'm all about safety, and being a good SNCO, I'm not going to publicly mock leadership decisions. For people who are running and walking on the roads at night, that reflective belt could very well end up being a life saver ... the important (you're not dead) type ... not the candy. I think what inspires the mocking though, is the way that the rules are sometimes enforced. For instance ... The Army guys may very well be denied entry to the DFAC (dining facility for you non-military types), if they show up without their PT Belt. Guess what happens? They're sent back, into the dark, to go get their belt ???? The Air Force isn't much be

Joining The Air Force Was A Good Decision

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I've been in the Air Force for 20 years, 3 months, and a couple of days. Before that, my dad was in the Air Force for 24 years. I've had (and will continue to have) a military ID card my entire life. Given this history, I suppose it probably wasn't too much of a long shot that I ended up joining the military ... although if you had asked me when I was 18 or 19 years old, had long hair, and was working as a bartender at the RAF Mildenhall Galaxy Club, I would have told you something along the lines of " no frickin way will I EVER join the military! " Needless to say, I did end up joining just a few years later. Looking back, all things considered, I think it was actually quite a wise decision ... even though, at the time, it was something of an impulsive action. Here's the story of how I joined the Air Force ... My dad retired from the Air Force in 1989 when his tour at RAF Mildenhall England came to an end. We packed up all of our stuff, and moved to Flor

Is There Really A Man In The Moon?

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I remember one time when we were driving from my parents house near Tampa, back up to Tyndall AFB, FL, where I was stationed. Justin was about 5 or 6 years old, and Haley was still a toddler. Their mom, and baby Jordan were sleeping, as it was already dark. As I'm driving along, and I hear a question from behind me: "Dad, is there really a Man in the Moon?" Now, I could have given my young, impressionable son the "real" answer ... But you have to understand something about me, back when I was 19 years old, my favorite comic in the world was Calvin and Hobbes , and I made up my mind right there and then that if I ever had kids (little did I know), my "role model" as a father would definitely be Calvin's dad. :-) So, here's what transpired over the next 5 minutes or so ... Justin: Dad, is there really a man in the moon? Me : Sure there is, can't you see him? (as I point out the window at the full moon) Justin: Why does he look so sad

Iraq Election Results Were Released Today

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This was my second time here in Iraq ... and very likely my last. A couple of weeks ago, I was working pretty hard doing 12 hour shifts. The Iraqis were having an election, and since the American military is still here, we were providing support. Especially compared to the last election they had, a few years back, March 7th was relatively successful and smooth. Today, the finally released the results ... And, it looks like it's just about a tie; with the former Prime Minister Allawi's faction ending up with 2 more seat's than current Prime Minister Maliki, with Al-Sadr's party not too far behind. This being a parliamentary system, they will now have to find a way to build big enough coalitions to be able to form a government ... which may not be easy . It could be an interesting couple of months this spring. Either way, I don't think that any of the parties will be very interested in having American troops stay past the 2012 date in the SOFA. (purely my opini

The Whole World In My Hand

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So I found this little beach ball globe in our back room when we were cleaning it out yesterday, and got the idea that it might make for a pretty cool picture. I may actually do something like this again in the future, when I have bit more time to set things up ... but for now, I think it came out about like I'd expected. And as a "bonus", now I have that song I remember from when I was a kid stuck in my head: He's got the whole world in His hands He's got the whole world in His hands He's got the whole world in His hands He's got the whole world in His hands He's got the itty bitty baby in His hands He's got the itty bitty baby in His hands He's got the itty bitty baby in His hands He's got the whole world in His hands He's got a-you and me brother in His hands He's got a-you and me brother in His hands He's got a-you and me brother in His hands He's got the whole world in His hands He's got a-you and me sister in His

The Alamo - COB Adder Legal Office

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I had to make a quick trip to the Legal Office the other day. Here on COB Adder it is called the "The Alamo". This is another one of those places that was on my "I gotta get a picture before I leave" list. Since I was over that way again this morning, and had my camera in the truck, I couldn't resist the opportunity to snap a few pictures of the arch, and wall mural. The reason that I had to go to the legal office was to get another power of attorney to send to my wife back home. I had actually already gotten a multi-purpose special power of attorney from the Fort Hood legal office back when I was going my pre-deployment preparation. However, as sometimes happens, an subject that I didn't plan for (and therefore wasn't covered by the existing document) happened to pop up. Fortunately, I was able to get a walk-in appointment right here on post, scanned the new power of attorney, and emailed it to my wife. Most larger bases over here in Iraq (and A

Why Are Some Bugs Better Than Other Bugs?

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Every notice how pretty much everybody loves Lady Bugs? We pick them up, we let them crawl all over us, we take pictures of them ... Heck, we even make jewelry designed in their image. But man, let some people spot a cockroach, or even one of those rhino beetles; you know the ones with the big horns; and they about have a heart attack. What makes Lady Bugs so much better? Even with little kids, there are certain bugs that just universally "good". I know kids that are correctly scared of spiders, bees, and yes even the dreaded cockroach. But, introduce those same kids to a " rolly polly " and they'll sit and play with the thing for an hour. Even when I was here last time, we all briefed in advance about the dreaded " camel spider "; which, upon closer examination wasn't really all that scary. It kind of reminded me of a beetle, with 4 pretty sharp pinchers on it's front jaws. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't go around trying to pi

Global Warming?

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Okay, I don't know about "global" warming, but it's definitely hotter than it's supposed to be here in southern Iraq right now. I realize this is sort of a recurring theme. I know, it's kind of like, "why is it hot?" ... and Sam Kinison screams back at me "Because you're in the F%&*@# desert !!!" But seriously, according our (admittedly limited) climatology, the previous Record High for this month was only 99 degrees Fahrenheit. The official high temperature we recorded today was 104 ... but our little hand held, sitting in the sun for about 10 minutes right outside our office showed a much more impressive (for purposes of my picture anyway) 110.8 degrees. Either way, it's just not normally supposed to be this hot, this soon! Just to clarify though, lest someone accuse me of being a "global warming alarmist" ... I am NOT at all trying to imply that just because it's hotter than normal in one place, it somehow

C-17 GlobeMaster Taking Off Into The Rising Sun

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I like airplane pictures, and I like sun rises. Every once in a while I'm in the right place, at the right time, with the right lens on my camera .. as I was this morning when this C-17 was taking off into a nice orange early morning sky. When I first started project365, I wasn't really planning to take many pictures of the aircraft around the base. However, over the past 2 1/2 months, two of the most popular shots (here on the blog, and flickr) were of a C-130 airplane and UH-60 helicopter. Of course, I did have a cool story to go with each of those posts ... I've flown on C-17s a couple of times over the years. I remember on the flight into Iraq in 2007, the last time I deployed here, we were really happy to be on a C-17 instead of a C-130 ... I wasn't quite so lucky this time. I was also on a C-17 flying Space-A from Hawaii to Travis AFB to go meet up with my son Justin a couple of summers ago. The coolest thing about flying Space-A on a C-17 is that if you bri

Does 41 Birthdays Make Me Old?

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I was born on March 8th 1969. I've always thought that anyone who was born after men walked on the moon is still pretty young, so I guess I do just barely qualify as "old" ... lol, especially if you were to ask my teenage kids. ;-) Forty-one is actually a pretty interesting age ... The great majority of the time, my mind still thinks I'm 22 or 23. But then ... My body (usually the knees or back) jumps up and smacks me in the head, with the all too painful reminder that I'm way closer to 50! In just a couple of months, I'm going to be a dad again ... for the 7th time if you count my step-kids Johnathan and Jasmine (which I do). I suppose it should probably freak me out or something ... but it doesn't. I do feel kind of sorry for my two youngest daughters in one way though. I can almost hear their future junior high school friends now ... "Oh, that's so sweet that your grandpa picks you up from school" It's all good though. Maybe by

It Is Hot In the Desert

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... and in other news, the sky is still blue. I know this is the desert and everything, but I had kind of hoped to avoid feeling too much of the heat before I go home next month. Unfortunately, no such luck. The temperature is going to climb up into the mid 90s today, and will most likely pop 100 a couple of times later this week. I guess I shouldn't complain, it only rained 6 or 7 times during the entire 5 months I've been here so far ... and this was the "wet" season! ... so, I didn't have to deal too much with the muddy mess that a desert turns into when it rains. But still ... I'm going to get plenty of this 100 degree heat this summer in Texas. Anyhow, for those of you who think that the snow storms back in the States this winter somehow indicate that global warming isn't happening ... I just thought I'd let you know that it's definitely hotter than normal in other parts of the world. (although truth be told, neither is a terribly good i

Putting Out Fires

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Why is it that in my personal, professional, heck even with my hobbies, it seems like I spend such a large percentage of my time just putting out fires? Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly adept at handling problems ... whether I had a hand in creating them or not. It would just be nice if every once in a while I had a little more warning about what type of challenges I'm likely to wake up to each morning. In my ideal "Todd's World" I would have my own plan, stick to it, and let someone else take care of the fires. Someday I might get there. But for now, I guess I if I'm looking for a bright side, my life would be much more boring without all these silly little flare ups every day :-) Todd

Not Your Dad's AFN TV

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Picture of AFN Satellite Receiver Dish I remember when I lived in England in the late 80s and early 90s, AFN (Armed Forced Network) TV had I think just one channel. It wasn't that big a deal, since we were in an English speaking country. And even for people in Germany or the Far East, I would imagine that even one channel was better than nothing at all. When I was in Korea in 2005, there may have been a few more channels, but I honestly didn't pay very close attention. Fast forward to 2009-2010 here at COB Adder Iraq ... most people have TVs in their rooms (I don't, but that's basically because I already don't have enough time for the things I want to do), so I'm a bit more aware this time about what's on AFN. Holy Cow! There are like 8 or 9 channels now. For the most part, the shows that are on are still from last season. However, there are a few that are current (1 or 2 days behind the States), American Idol is one that comes to mind. Also, obviousl

Art Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

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You know what's cool about being a "photographer" ... as opposed to just "some guy with a camera" ? I can post up a picture like the one above; tell you that it's "Art" (who's deep meaning, I'll leave to you to interpret); and you might just have to believe me. ;-) Todd, the "guy with a camera" probably could have just taken the easy way out and gone with the helicopter picture for his project365 today: But every once in a while, it's more fun to step outside the box, shake things up a bit, and try to make people think (darn, wish I knew a few more cliches) :-D So, did I make the right decision? Is "funky cool colors" more interesting than "boring old helicopter"? Either way, it's too late now, I'm about to hit the publish button on this post. I hope you enjoy my "art" (whichever one you chose). Todd

I Miss Having A Cell Phone

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If you've been following along with my pictures and stories, you're probably aware that we don't have it all that bad over here ... certainly not compared to some troops in other parts of Iraq, and definitely those in Afghanistan. But, human nature being what it is, of course I've still got a few minor gripes ... mainly about my access to the Internet (cue: wife Ana rolling eyes as she reads this) . In some ways, being over here is almost like a flashback to the 90s. I'm truly thankful to have Internet in my room, but I also forgot how frustrating VERY Slow Internet can be ... seriously, it's like I've got dial up AOL again ... except thankfully without having to listen to the modem trying to connect (or worse, the dreaded busy signal). With just a little more than a month left here, there are a couple things I am really looking forward to when i get home. The first is obviously seeing my family. BTW, with the winter storm at Fort Hood yesterday, the kid

Ok I Guess I Won't Talk About Jock Itch

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But if you're a guy, and you take a trip somewhere really hot, the LAST thing in the world you want to Forget is your bottle of Medicated Body Powder. ... I'm just sayin ;-) Todd

How Forecasters Really Guess The Weather (Humor)

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For some you non-weather people (most who read this blog actually), this joke may be a little "inside baseball", so I apologize in advance. But I know at least a few of my facebook friends are fellow Air Force weather forecasters, and might appreciate this. Then again, I bet most of you actually suspect that this is how we come up with our weather guesses anyway ... The following is taken from the picture above: Forecasting Dust 101 by: SSgt Kevin "KJ" Johnson Acquire one regulation dart board Write the numbers 0, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on sticky note sheets Place above mentioned sticky note sheets on dart board Place blindfold over eyes Place forehead on end of baseball bat and spin around in circles for 5 minutes Puke Run as fast as you can into a wall Get up and realize you are a total idiot Pick up 3 darts and throw them (at the same time) at the dart board Lowest value is the visibility in miles. If you fail to hit anywhere on the dart board, repea

My Favorite Lens

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I got my first dSLR about 5 years ago. Like most people, I started with the kit lens, a 50mm, and a cheap 80-200mm zoom lens. Shortly thereafter, I learned about "quality" lenses, and went on a buying spree. The lens that's on my camera most of the time is a Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 (I took this picture with that lens). But my favorite lens, is the picture's subject ... my only "pro" lens ... the Canon 70-200 F4L. I bought it used on the FredMiranda.com buy and sell board for I think $450 (which was a pretty good price). Over the years, this has been my main portrait lens ... especially since I'm very fond of "candid" type portraits ... it's much easier to do with a nice telephoto lens. I have another long zoom; the Sigma 50-500mm; that is a lot of fun. But, that sucker weighs almost 3 lbs, so it's not my favorite. Anyhow, I'm just rambling. I found out yesterday that I'll be going up to Baghdad next week; and staying the

Who Is Manning Your Control Tower?

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Do you sometimes feel as though you're going through life on auto-pilot? That's it ... "deep thought" Tuesday. Todd p.s. I hope you like the picture ... kinda reminds me of Christmas

It's All About Your Perspective

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Ever notice how two people can look at the same object or scene and sometimes come away seeing two completely different things? Or maybe they read a book, or watch a movie and end up with an opinion about it that is 180 degree opposite of what we think. What about politics ... think there are some varying opinions there? But just because people may see things differently, does this automatically mean that someone has to be "wrong"? In almost any situation, sometimes taking a step back and changing the way we're looking at something, can totally change our perspective. By occasionally examining things from a different angle, we may not necessarily change our own opinions or ideas; but it does make it much easier to understand where others might be coming from, if you take the time to try to see what they see. Just a thought ... Todd p.s. I know for a fact that all of those containers are exactly the same size. However, if you were to argue that the ones on the right

Welcome To Ali AB (COB Adder) Iraq

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** Note: the following information covers the period of my deployment to Ali Base from Oct 09 - Apr 10. I am now back in Texas. If you know of anybody who is currently at COB Adder/Ali Base, who is blogging about it, please let me know via the contact form, so that I can link to them from this post ... thanks. I was tasked to put together a welcome letter for some of the new guys who will be replacing us over the next few months. As part of the project, I took a picture of the wall mural above; which is one of the first things you see when you get off the plane here. As I was taking the picture, I remembered back to when I first found out I was coming here. As soon as I got home from work that day, I fired up the old macbook, and did a search for Ali Air Base , COB Adder , and Tallil (yes, this place goes by all of those names). I found a few websites and blogs, but of course I wanted to know more (especially about quality of life stuff). So, here's what we're gonna do