Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cool Winnings


I can't even count how many contests and sweepstakes I have entered in the last few years, but I never seem to win anything...

A few weeks ago, I entered a contest on the BlogHer website for Fage Yogurt. It's really good Greek yogurt that Tom and I discovered a few years ago. And I won! I finally won!

The Fage arrived today. Two each of: 2% and Fat free plain yogurt, cherry, strawberry, peach and honey. The cool thing about Fage yogurt is that the fruit (or honey) is in a small container on the side. So you can mix in as much or as little into the yogurt as you want.

We like using the plain yogurt to make Tzaziki, a Greek appetizer/dip. The following is an easy Tzaziki recipe:

Ingredients:
16 ounces (2 cups) of thick Greek yogurt (like Fage)
4 to 10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated cucumber (Kirby or "English")
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons of lemon juice

Preparation:
Prepare all ingredients in advance. Dry the cucumber between sheets of paper towels.
Combine oil and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl. Fold the yogurt in slowly, making sure it mixes completely with the oil. Add the garlic, according to taste, and the cucumber. Stir until evenly distributed.
Serve well chilled.
The garlic taste will become more pronounced the next day.
Good for about 3 days if kept refrigerated.
Yield: about 2 1/2 cups
Read More......

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spontaneity

I'm not known for being spontaneous. I like to have a plan, to know what's coming up, to know what to expect...Every once in a while though I do something spontaneous and it usually turns out pretty good.

This past Friday afternoon I decided to call my best friend from school and ask what her weekend plans were. Turns out she didn't have a whole lot going on and agreed it would be great to have me come for a visit. So, Saturday morning I jumped in the car and drove four hours to Whiteman AFB, MO. We had a great visit. Sunday we went to her parents house for a barbecue. I hadn't seen her family (mother, father and brother) since we graduated - about 12 years ago! It was great to see them and get to spend some time with them. I never knew her father had been a maintainer for 20 years, so we had a couple nice conversations about "the good old days" in maintenance.

I also got to see another friend who's also at Whiteman. Before this I hadn't seen her since I left Ramstein AB 6 years ago! I only got to see her for a few hours Sunday morning because her husband was coming back from a deployment that afternoon. But we made the most of the three hours we had. I got lots of cool ideas from her to help support my husband's squadron. She's really creative so I just kind of picked her brain on things to do. She came up with an awesome idea that I am really excited about for the unit - I just hope my husband is as excited as we are. I've already created a whole power point presentation to win him over. Now I just have to wait another week for him to get back from his TDY. Did I mention his TDY? Among other places, they went to Oslo and he took the time to look up his ancestors. He found the town his maternal grandfather was from and loved it. I'm not sure I have ever heard him so excited. I can't wait to see the pictures...heck, I can't wait to go with him and see it myself sometime.

Back to my spontaneous weekend...That's one of the things I love about my military friends. Even if it has been years since the last time we've been together, we always seem to pick up right where we left off. It's as if military people realize more than others that life sometimes gets ahead of you and everyone makes the best of the time they are given. If there's only time for coffee or lunch, then you enjoy the time you have.

It was a great weekend and I'm really glad I picked up that phone and called on Friday. Maybe I'll remember that next time I think of something spontaneous... Read More......

Friday, May 22, 2009

Quiet Time

I haven't been posting very much lately...not much to say...or not much I want to put into words...or maybe just being lax and not wanting to take the time to come up with a topic and then discuss it.

A couple things have been keeping me quieter than normal...Tom has been gone a lot this month, more than usual. I'm not complaining, not really...how can I complain about a week here and there when other people are gone for 120/180/365 days at a time? So I'm not complaining just commenting on how schedules can get messed up with people coming and going all the time. Not just Tom...I've driven back and forth to KY quite a few times in the last couple months...I think it's taken it's toll.

While I would love to write something awe-inspiring and monumental, for now I'll just keep taking it easy - working on another afghan blanket, scrapbooking my years at USAFA, and reading a biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth...that's enough to keep me busy for a while... Read More......

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Supporting the WASPs

"I salute you...We of the Army Air Force are proud of you.
We will never forget our debt to you."
General "Hap" Arnold, 7 Dec. 1944

I am constantly amazed as I read the list of who is/isn't supporting the bills (S614/HR2014) to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII. How could anyone not want to support this? Why wouldn't they have signed on during the first week? How could we, even for a moment, forget what the women of the "Greatest Generation" did for this country?

This morning I was both excited and disappointed to read that Senators from 47 states have signed on to support S614. I was excited because having the support of that many Senators makes it more likely the bill will pass when it comes up for the vote. I was disappointed because Kentucky (my home state) is one of three states (the others are SC and WY) not yet supporting the bill.

I decided to call the offices of Senator Jim Bunning and Senator Mitch McConnell again to urge their support. This time I introduced myself and gave my home town. It's amazing what a difference that made. I talked to them a bit about why I thought this was an important bill, that after blogging about the bill (and writing about it on Facebook) I was actually embarrassed that my own Senators were not supporting it. That seemed to get their attention. They asked for my name and address and said they would pass on my message.

I also called Congressman Chandler's (D-KY 6th) office and urged him to support HR2014. I am happy to say (as previously posted) my representative from IL, Congressman Jerry Costello, has already signed on as co-sponsor, as has my representative from VA, Congressman James Moran (D-VA 8th).

If you would like to see if your representatives have signed on to support this important legislation, you can see who has not yet signed on as co-sponsor by clicking on "Not Yet Yes" which will get you to a database provided by the Wings Across America website. On the website you can also see different ways of getting in touch with your representatives to urge their support. If you don't want to call, you can use e-mail or Twitter. The website also has a really nice flyer and several different post cards you can print out and mail (you can also find your representatives district office address). It's easy - everything is done for you, it just takes a few moments of your time. Read More......

Friday, May 15, 2009

Making a Difference

As you know, I have been doing what I can to try to influence our Senators and members of Congress to support S614 and HR2014 to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the WASPs. For the first time in my life, I have called and e-mailed my representatives and I actually heard back from one of them.

The following is an e-mail I received from Congressman Costello. I'm sure it was actually written by some 22-year-old staffer, but it still felt good when I read it.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear [Sam]:

I wanted to drop you a note to let you know I received your message regarding H.R. 2014, legislation to award a congressional gold medal to the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP).

I appreciate you contacting my office and thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. As the first women in history to fly American military aircraft, WASP's were the catalyst for integration of women pilots into the Armed Services. H.R. 2014 has been referred to the House Financial Services and House Administration Committee for consideration. As a cosponsor of this legislation, be assured I will support H.R. 2014 should it come before the full House for a vote.

If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
Jerry F. Costello
Member of Congress Read More......

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Water Under the Bridge

This past weekend I was in Kentucky visiting family. One of my brothers received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Kentucky so we had an "open house" for friends and family. It was also Mother's Day so I was able to spend time with my mother, step-mother and step-grandmother.

One of the things I actually appreciated the most was spending some time with my younger brother. As I mentioned in a previous post, my brother and I had a "falling out" almost 16 months ago. He lived with my husband and I over the summer and again in the fall/winter for a total of about 4 months. He was in DC doing an internship with the Department of Homeland Security and we were happy to help out. Unfortunately, it did not end well. I won't go into the details but it has been over a year since the last time we actually spoke.

When I visited my family a few weeks ago, my brother called both my mother and step-father and seemed genuinely upset that no one had told him I was in town. Of course my first thought was "didn't know you cared." So for this visit, I asked everyone to make sure he knew I was coming and figured I'd see what happened.

I didn't talk much with him at the open house, but he did come over and give me a hug. After the open house, he and my younger sister joined me at my mother's house for dinner and cake. We spoke for a while, nothing of any consequence, but it was a start. He then asked if he could come over the next day after work. This time there was no sister or 2-year-old niece to provide a buffer. We didn't talk about much other than his new job at the vet center, his new apartment, his new car, etc. We didn't bring up the "fall out."

So, I'm hoping we can move past it and call it water under the bridge. As I was thinking of what that means to me, I decided to look it up. According to the Free Dictionary website "water under the bridge" means: "A past occurrence, especially something unfortunate, that cannot be undone or rectified." Well, the fall out was definitely "unfortunate" and cannot be undone. It also can't really be rectified since both sides believe they are in the right. Another website for quotations and idioms defined it as "Something that has happened in the past and is no longer worth agonizing over." While it was in the past, and I definitely do not want to keep agonizing over it, I don't know if I agree that it is "no longer worth agonizing over." There are serious issues that caused the argument and by sweeping them under the rug (another idiom?) they won't ever be dealt with.

Regardless of the actual meaning of "water under the bridge," I am glad I have my brother back. I would actually prefer not rehashing the past and just move forward from here. It's not as if I think we are about to become best-friends, but it's nice to be able to talk with him or think of family get togethers without worrying about how it will go... Read More......

Friday, May 8, 2009

Next Step for WASP Congressional Gold Medal

S614 - the bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the WASPs has received the 2/3 sponsorship it needs to leave the committee. Of the four Senators I called and sent an e-mail to, only Sen Warner (VA) signed on as co-sponsor (on 7 May). Despite that, I still feel as if, for the first time in my life, I might have actually contributed (in a small way) to the running of our government. And isn't that what a true democracy is all about?

The next step is HR2014. This Bill needs 92 more sponsors from the House of Representatives.

This morning I sent an e-mail to my Representatives (from KY, IL and VA). It's easy. Go to "Soap Box Alert," enter your zip code and type a short email. SAMPLE MESSAGE: "I would like to urge Representative ___ to support HR2014, awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII, known as the WASP. Please contact Rep Illeana Ros-Liethen or Rep Susan Davis's office ASAP to sign on as a co-sponsor to the bill." Take a moment and add whatever you think might help.

For more information, take a look at my post from 2 May 09 ("Delayed Recognition") and/or visit the Wings Across America website. Read More......

Thursday, May 7, 2009

SeaQuest Season 2

Lately, I've been watching the second season of SeaQuest and I think I can see why it lost a lot of its followers...

While season one was about discovering the secrets of the ocean, the second season seems to have much more of the typical sci-fi ideas: telepathy, aliens, time travel, life sucking plants, aliens, giant ice age crocodiles, aliens, 1200 year old "spirits", etc.

As I mentioned previously, one of the things I loved about SeaQuest was the idea of exploring the oceans. Now the crew of the SeaQuest seems to spend more time on shore leave than they do on the sub. Maybe the producers thought people wanted to see more of the characters out of uniform...maybe they thought there were only so many shows that could be done centered around the ocean...who knows?

One of the things they kept from the first season to the second was the "Sea Facts." During the credits, at the end of each episode, someone from the cast would do a short spot on some interesting sea fact: sharks, the difference between sea lions and seals, penguins, threat of pollution, etc. I still think its a pretty cool idea to use that time (the credits) to try and educate people (at least a little bit).

I hadn't realized the man who did the sea facts during the first season, Bob Ballard, is the same man who discovered the Titanic. He also found the Yorktown, Bismark and even JFK's PT-109 among many others. I thought he was just one of the scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. I guess that goes to show what you can find out with a little digging... Read More......

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Calling

"...live a life worthy of the calling you have received." — Ephesians 4:1

Pioneer Woman recently posted about a friend of hers who went to India with Compassion International. It wasn't necessarily the post itself or even Compassion International that struck a chord, just the idea of doing something worthwhile to make the world a better place.

The Bible verse above was on the Compassion International website. Of course, I have read the verse before. Yet, today, as every other time I have read this verse, I wondered what if you don't know what your calling is?

At one point in my life, I was sure my calling was to serve my country in the AF. Now, when that is no longer available to me, I am left with wondering, again, what my calling is...

How can you live a life worthy of your calling, if you have no idea what that calling is? Read More......

Monday, May 4, 2009

Who Am I?

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you probably realize I have been trying to figure out who I am now that I’m no longer in the Air Force.

The other day, I stumbled upon something very exciting. At least I thought it was exciting. Have you ever heard of “idea mapping?” I hadn’t, but as I read about it, a huge light bulb lit up over my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about it - so I pulled out my sketch book and markers…In the past two days, I have done two different (but similar) “idea” maps.

What is my idea? Me. Who am I? What drives me? What makes me happy? How do I see myself? What do I want for my future?
As I said before, I am a work in progress. So are these “maps.” But I’m excited with what I’ve got so far…and excited to see where it goes from here. They were actually too big to scan completely, but the pictures show enough so you get the point.

Let me know what you think…Did I leave something out that you think of when you think of me? Is there something on my map you did not know about me? What would your idea map look like?
Read More......

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Delayed Recognition

As you may know, I served in the US Air Force for 10 years. You may or may not know that I went to the Air Force Academy and had dreams of being a pilot. I did get several opportunities to fly a glider and even got to “fly” an F-16 during a Cope Thunder exercise in Alaska, but I never became a pilot. Reading about the WASPs of WWII was one of the things that fueled (and still fuels) my dreams of flight. Now I have an opportunity, in a small way, to return the favor.

On 12 Mar 09, Sen Hutchison and Sen Mikulski introduced a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII. As I understand it, the bill must have the support (as co-sponsors of the bill) of 2/3 of the House and Senate before it leaves the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee. In order for the bill to pass, and for the WASPs to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, two thirds of both the Senate and the House must actually vote for the bill after it gets out of study by the Senate Banking Committee, where it stands at this moment. I may have majored in Poli Sci, but must admit I need a refresher course in how a bill gets passed (does anyone else hear School House Rock in the back ground? “I’m just a bill, Yes, I’m only a bill…”).

The vote is scheduled for 8 May 09 and as of today, 2 May 09, they still need the support of 10 Senators and 112 Congressmen. At the Wings Across America website you can see which Senators and/or Congressmen have signed on to support this bill. If your representatives have not signed on, please take a moment and let them know you support this bill. E-mailing them is easy.

Visit “Soap Box Alert” enter your zip code and type a short e-mail. A sample message is: "I would like to urge Senator ___ to support S 614, awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII, known as the WASP. Please urge him to contact Senator Hutchison's or Senator Mikulski's office ASAP to sign on as a co-sponsor to the bill." Add whatever else you think might help. I sent e-mails to representatives from KY (my home state), VA (state of residence) and IL (current residence) as well as to Sen John McCain. I tried to make each e-mail a little bit personal so they would understand this bill actually means something to me. [Update 4 May: I called the offices of Sen Warner, Sen Webb, Sen Bunning and Sen McConnell to ask them to support S 614. First time I have ever called a politician...I have the power!! :) ]

I can't say it any better than Senator Hutchison when she said: “More than fifty years have passed since the intrepid Women Airforce Service Pilots bravely served in World War II, but these women have yet to receive the recognition they deserve. Even without formal acknowledgement, their service paved the way for all women who serve valiantly in the military today,” said Sen. Hutchison. “Just as the Navajo Code Talkers and the Tuskegee Airmen served their country with distinction in World War II, and were subsequently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, it is appropriate for us to honor the service of the Women Airforce Service Pilots with Congress’ top award.”

Sen Hutchison’s media release also explained more about the Congressional Gold Medal. The Congressional Gold Medal is "awarded by Congress and, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is the highest and most distinguished honor a civilian may receive. The award is bestowed for exceptional acts of service to the United States or for lifetime achievement. Once approved by Congress, the U.S. Mint designs and creates each gold medal so that it uniquely represents the individual or event being honored. The original medal is then displayed at the Smithsonian Institution.”

There are only around 300 WASPs living today. When approved, the Congressional Gold Medals will be awarded to all 1,102 pilots and/or their surviving family members.

As one of our great presidents, Abraham Lincoln, once said: "Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure." Please join with me, take the time to look into this and then pass it on to friends and family, and help honor our heroes. Read More......

Friday, May 1, 2009

SeaQuest

During my sophomore year in high school I, like most others, took Biology. I can’t remember my teacher’s name, but I remember how much I liked her. One of the reasons I liked her so much is because I loved biology. She made it interesting and made me want to learn more about it.

I especially loved learning about the ocean. I remember learning about red tides and how many of the things found in the ocean are older than most things found on land. My favorite outing when I was younger was going to the Boston Aquarium and the Science Museum.

I recently rediscovered SeaQuest DSV. Just hearing the tagline “Beneath the surface lies the future” gives me chills because of the way it fuels my imagination.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved science fiction. Shows like Star Trek, Stargate and more recently BSG and Firefly. All of these series fuel the imagination and make one look further than our regular every day lives.

One of the great things about SeaQuest is that while it’s sci fi, it's premise seems possible and attainable. The world’s population is growing by leaps and bounds. At some point we are going to outgrow the available landmass. What will we do? Where will we live?

SeaQuest shows what might or could happen if we started to populate earth’s oceans. Oceans cover about 70% of the earth’s surface. If we could figure out a way to live down there, literally a whole new world would be open to us. Not only that, but if we can find out more about our present and our future by learning from our past, what more can we learn by studying our oceans?

There is so much out there…it makes me wonder what kind of research is currently being done concerning our oceans. How much money are we spending, and is it enough? I imagine it’s hard to find money for such research when most people probably think money should be spent on cancer research or ways to fuel the world or even in the competing arena of space…

As much as I probably sound like a geek going on about science fiction and how much I love science, I don’t really care. I think it’s good to have something out there that makes you think beyond the present. Something that makes you wonder if there is more to life than just what we know. Something that drives you to study the past, through studying the stars, the oceans, or the earth, in order to learn more about how to improve our present or to make life better in the future…As they say on SeaQuest, beneath the surface lies the future… Read More......