Yeah, I'm in Kuwait now. I'll be here for about another week, then I head North.
I've been seeing people I know left and right... a chaplain I met in SC, my bunk mate from Basic Training, one of my instructors from AIT, and so on. Small world. Not to mention I saw my RA from Concordia at my church in WA the Sunday before I shipped out.
As deployment nears I think I'll probably pick up with this again, posting more often.
Since the last post, I've moved to the other side of the country (from SC to WA) and gotten married to my wonderful wife Katie. We also have two kittens now, Fernando and Laney.
Washington is a beautiful place, both in the East (Spokane) and the West (Seattle and surrounding area). Mt. Rainier, an over-due to erupt, active volcano, is very close to where we live here in Tacoma, WA, (about 37 miles away) and is quite a wondrous site when visible (about half the time, since we've lived here). Seattle is a quick 45 minutes away, Olympia only an hour away, and Downtown Tacoma and the waterfront of Commencement Bay only 10 minutes away. Fort Lewis, where I am now stationed, is also a very short commute. And there's always plenty to do around here.
The kittens were rescued by my mother- and sister-in-law awhile ago, as the kittens were just wondering around the outside of the shop, hungry, and we took them in. They are definitely brother and sister, and it was nice to be able to keep them together. Liam Fernando is completely black, with stripes one can see on his sides in certain light. We wonder if they will show more as he grows older. Currently at 5.5 lbs and 3 1/2 months old, he's going to be a big guy when full-grown. Laney is smaller, at 4 lbs, a Torby (mostly tabby, but with some tortoiseshell (orange spots) mixed in too) and gets punk'd on by her larger brother often.
As mentioned above, I'm deploying soon. I leave this coming week for a 12 month deployment to Iraq with the 51st Expeditionary Signal Battalion.
Pugs are awesome dogs. I'm usually much more of a mid- to large-size dog lover, but pugs are the exception.
I'm pretty sure Katie and I are going to get a pug for our first dog. We're planning to get one from a pug rescue, most likely the Seattle Pug Rescue since we'll be near the Seattle area.
But I also want to show you Odie the Pug. I should warn you that his story is so sad it made me tear up, so keep that in mind before taking a look at this little guy. Nothing graphic, it's just very sad. This poor guy isn't even a year old yet and has had a pretty bad life up 'til now. But fortunately, and thanks to SEPRA, he's finally living life like a pug puppy should. They just added some new pictures of him, and he's so adorable. Wish I could adopt him.
Some of you have heard of "Web 2.0". But have any of you heard of Identity 2.0?
I won't go into too much detail, but there's a great keynote presentation from OSCON 2005 you can watch on identity20.com. Dick Hardt has great presentation style, and it's a funny and informative keynote. There are several other neat videos on Sxip Identity's website (pronounced \skip\).
See also: OpenID.org. Check out Sxip's new extension for Firefox, Sxipper. Good stuff.
What I'm interested in seeing is how Identity 2.0 will inevitably interface with governmental and legislative initiatives, like the Real ID Act. No doubt we'll eventually all have SmartCards for our passports, driver's licenses, and other governmental/municipal IDs. The US DoD already does it.
It's been about 10 weeks since I last posted. And probably a bit longer than that that I've read other people's blogs as well. My "online presence" - IM, Facebook, LiveJournal, et cetera - has been almost non-existent lately. I'd like to say that it's because I finally have a life now, but alas, that is not the case. Rather, Pidgin has not been working for me at all, really, and I haven't bothered to see what might be wrong with it. But it seems to be working now. Also, I just haven't really had all that much to say, in terms of a blog. And as for Facebook and whatnot, I'm not too fond of the new changes to it, and my MySpace profile is just coasting now. I don't really see any need to update it.
But over the last couple months a few things have finally happened that I ought to blog about, and so I think I finally shall.
First, I went back to Wisconsin at the beginning of June for the first time since I've been stationed here at Fort Jackson. My sister Katelyn and best friend Jeremy were both graduating from High School. Also, Katie made the trip out from Washington to Wisconsin to see me again, and also meet most of my extended family for the first time. Much fun was had by all, I think. My sister's party was pretty good; a full keg of J.T. Whitney's Badger Red Ale was on hand, along with a quarter-keg each of their Orange Cream Soda and Root Beer. All three were splendid as always. A nice Lutheran graduation party.
After her party, Katie and I attended Jeremy's party, which, surprisingly, had a very weak selection of fine alcoholic beverages. Corona Light? But there was some nice New Glarus Brewery "Totally Naked," a nice, somewhat light Summer beer. No Spotted Cow, though. But New Glarus is great, as always. Anyway, the bonfire there was superb, even despite the wood having been soaked a bit by the rain the night before and earlier that morning. Our timing for arriving at the party, however, was not so good. Most of the first round of food had already been consumed and the second round didn't show up 'til almost midnight, if I recall correctly. I got to seen Ethan again, as well as Jenny and Kim. Everyone's changed so much in the last year. And, of course, seeing Jeremy again was great.
Speaking of everyone changing so much, my sister has also changed a lot. She's so much more mature, and at times I might mistake her for a college student, a Junior, perhaps. She enlisted in the Army Reserve, but that contract is going to be terminated, I believe, and she will be entering the ROTC program in La Crosse. She'll be studying to become an RN in the field of Physical Therapy. Also, she has a boyfriend. Her first. He's a very athletic fellow, half-Mexican, half-Irish, and named Edward. He seems alright, I guess.
As for the other events of the 6 or so days I spent in Wisconsin, the Monday following my sister's graduation (where at I saw saw AN's Jim Lincoln, there for his little brother's graduation), Katie and I wend to Devil's Lake for the afternoon. We took along a nice picnic and then climbed the boulders of the East Bluff. Great fun. And noone got hurt. (I think 2 people have died on the bluffs already this year.)
The drive to Wisconsin itself was very pleasant, excepting only for the rising gas prices the farther North I went. On the way up to Wisconsin I stopped in Charlottesville, VA to pick up some of Colin's stuff from his apartment there and bring it up to Wisconsin with me. His roommate Jesse was very nice and even made me some coffee after I had loaded up the stuff. My VW's starter didn't die on me, nor did it's malfunctioning thermostat cause any problems. There were really no problems to report other than me almost hitting not one, but two, deer (at the same time) on the highway between Rockford, IL. and the boarder with Wisconsin. I also think I might have almost gotten pulled over, until the cop must have realized that he was following me onto the on-ramp for a toll highway. Not sure why he would have pulled me over, but he was acting rather odd... almost like he was debating whether he should. >shrugs<
Going through Ohio on US-31 (a HORRIBLY-maintained highway) I passed over "No-Name Creek." I thought this was rather hilarious. Stopping for dinner in a city in Indiana somewhere East of Indianapolis, I passed by what was obviously a rather newly developed commercial area; lots of new super-stores, fast-food restaurant, and other shops when I drove past a road... "New RD." read it's street sign. Interesting.
I bought a lava lamp while in Wisconsin. It's cool. More on that later, maybe. Also, I have Netflix now and have been enjoying it greatly. Most recently I've been using it to catch up on a lot of classics, and other older movies I would most likely not go out and rent at a store. Good stuff. As far as movies currently in the theater, I'd really like to see Oceans 13, Evan Almighty, and 28 Weeks Later. Though, for the latter of the three, I'd first like to see 28 Days Later.
Music. The Killer's new album, Sam's Town, is AWESOME. Not just for it's singles by themselves, but the album as a whole is amazing. It's one of those albums with which one doesn't feel like skipping through the tracks, from song to song. One really wants to listen to the album from front to back, not skipping a track. And that's just plain rare. 'nuff said. And not too much else to be said with other music right now.
My new computer has still not been repaired yet, but I am probably only about a month away from getting the insurance claim money for it, finally. Then I can at long last replace the Hard Drives and be on my way. Though, a computer tech at a local computer repair/build shop thinks that it could simply be that the RAID volume is corrupted, not that the drives themselves have gone bad. In which case I can have my machine up and running again for about 60 bucks, pocketing the rest of the $1,500 the computer was insured for to save for another large purchase to be made in the near future.
And as large purchases go, I've already mentioned my latest large purchase: a Black 2001 Volkswagen Jetta VR6. Heck. Yes. Got it in May. Pictures to be posted today or tomorrow, probably.
That's all I can think of for now. Later I might eleborate on some of the things already mentioned here.
My girlfriend's favorite singer is without a doubt John Mayer.
It took a while for me to grow to like his music, that is, aside from 3x5 which was the first John Mayer song I ever heard, that I can recall. And the only reason I liked it, at least at first, was due to it's sentimental value and ability to take me back to a dark, muggy, North Carolina night up in the Blue Ridge mountains in 2003. As for Katie, there is a John song for her every mood and for every occasion. She calls him by his first name and I now know who she's talking about when she mentions John. John's latest album is simply amazing. It is just as good work music as it is driving music as it is background music. I have several favorites from this album; There are more tracks I like on this album than tracks about which I feel less strongly.
Jeff Buckley is an artist I was introduced to by my friend Aggie some five years or more ago. Upon hearing just a couple of his soulful songs I already lamented his having died. Jeff is not someone I listen to regularly, however; his album Grace is not easily listened to front to back though I've done it many times. Even individual songs can feel distorted, surreal, detached from reality. Several I can't really listen to actively without first being in a particular personal mood which I call a "funk." I can best describe a funk as "High Definition Depression." Most people would say they "love" Jeff. But this is more likely than not to be because of his rather popular song, featured on Shrek, even, Hallelujah from Grace. It's a great song, no doubt. But there's so much more to both this album and Jeff.
Jeff is my John. He's less versatile musically as far as how and when I listen to him, but he has the same status for me that John has for Katie. I listen to Jeff mainly when in a funk or when in a quieter mood, excepting for a few songs, such as Yard Of Blonde Girls, which is a full out rock song. But nonetheless, his songs hold deeper meaning and more intense feeling for me. Enough to even change my mood. If music were liquors to mix, Jeff and early Interpol would be the best concoction for a funk.
Harvey Danger, the erie Lemon Jelly, and Jack Johnson are great follow-up.
I'm an alleged perpetrator of credit fraud. And the parts for my new computer have been delayed. Both orders I made (the first one I canceled after the trouble with it) weren't being processed and the reason why they weren't is because the payment method was declined.
The reason it was declined? Because I told Newegg to ship the stuff to my cousin. My cousin, of course, has a different address than my billing address. OHMYGOSH IT MUST BE FRAUD!
While it may look fishy to ship my very first order with Newegg to a different place than my billing address, I certainly don't think it warrants canceling my account! Jeez. I called them and asked them if there was any way I could have it shipped to my cousin without payment being declined and they said there wasn't. GAAAAH! So now it could take them up to two weeks to reopen my account. I have to cancel my current order (they also said I couldn't just change the shipping address for the already pending order) and resubmit a new one, but not until the reopen my account.
A waste of time and money. Now I'll have to have it shipped to myself, then ship it myself to tgies.
Here's another one of my lists of Discovered Items:
Last.fm It's cool. So just do it. foobar2000 Modular audio media player. No needlessly flashy GUI. Also plays a lot of obscure and open-source audio formats. It wins. A slightly similar project to Last.fm, though with a different aim, foosic.
And uh... there's a few other things too, but I gotta run...
If there's one sweeping generalization about South Carolina that I'll make it's this: the state is full employers who hire incompetent employees, and then poorly train them.
I'd never seen anyone pull out of line at a drive-thru after they've already ordered. This is due to what can be a ridiculously long wait at a drive-thou, something that is supposed to be *faster* than parking your can and going into the restaurant. At least I gather that's what the idea behind drive-thrus is, or was. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I have sat in a drive-thru line for more than 25 minutes on more than one occasion.
Time Warner You'd think they don't want your business. They make it so hard to order service from them, and then they *mess up everything*. I went into the location here on post to buy high-speed Internet service from them and they said noone at my location had ordered service from them previously, and so my address had to be put into the computer before I could even order. "Putting [my] address into the computer" is apparently something that takes at least a week, or so they told me anyway. I come back 8 days later and order the service. They give me a date and time range for when it will be installed. That date comes, the time range comes and goes, and no installation. I call them the next day to ask them why they didn't show up, and to reschedule the installation, and they couldn't even find me in the computer. It was as if I hadn't ever ordered. So I reorder, right then, over the phone. When it's installed, they take the first month's payment right then. She told me that the amount due at the install would be $45. That was not the same price the on post location had told me. They said it was going to be $30/mo for the first 3 months, then $45 after that. She supposedly changed my account on the computer to reflect this. When the guy came to install it, he asked for, and received $30, so I figured everything was fine. I get my first actual bill and they're asking me for *$60*. $15 of which is supposedly over-due. $45 of that was for this past month's service. It didn't take long for me to realize that all she had done was make a note on my account for the installer to only collect $30 instead of $45, and that I'm now getting billed for the other $15. Bastards. Stupid bastards. Nit-wits.
Cingular These idiots are screwing me royally. There's no other way to put it. I'm *seriously* thinking about suing them. I'm going over to JAG today to get some legal advice concerning the matter. I don't remember if I ever mentioned this in previous posts, but they've screwed up one thing or another *every month* since I've been here, requiring me to call Customer Service or go to the local Cingular store at least once, if not several times, a week to correct the matters. The short story of what's currently the problem: Cingular says I owe them over $700 (this is with late fees) for service for which I never received a bill. I never even knew I owed them this money, and then one day a collection notice shows up. I call them and go into the local store and end up making a claim (that's what they called it) to have all of these charges removed. Because, of course, it's completely unfair (and probably illegal, too) to charge somebody money and not tell them that they owe the money, and then when they don't pay the money that they never knew they had to pay, they don't pay it, and you send it to a collection agency. The claim was supposed to fix everything, and they were going to let me know when it had been taken care of. They said 7 business days. I gave them 8, just to give them the benefit of the doubt. Nope, apparently once it's been sent to the collection agency Cingular doesn't touch it anymore, even though that's exactly the opposite of what they told me when the claim was made. They said they would clear the balance and retract it from the collection agency (this last part *did* sound rather fishy). So now I've got to deal with the collection agency, and see if I can explain to them what happened. This is bogus. Especially because I never ONCE had even the slightest problem with Cingular before I moved here. Yes, I am blaming South Carolina.
All this is on top of what has been a rather cruddy week. I'm pissed.