30. April 2009 · Comments Off on Oh No! I Forgot! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

I forgot to thank Megan Henderson and her family in my previous posting for the care package she had sent!  I’m so sorry!

Megan was my roommate in college my last two years and she’s a pretty awesome lady!  She sent a box of books and magazines…thanks!

And for fun, here’s a picture of the two of us showing off our babies in their baby wraps!  This is from summer 2003, Jacob was 9 months old, Megan’s son Aidan was 6 months.

From 2003 06 25 Trip to New Hampshire 25-28 June 2003
28. April 2009 · Comments Off on What Have I Been Up To? · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Good question.

Right now, I’m enjoying Dancing With the Stars, although my enthusiasm is somewhat limited because I was away for the first 3-4 weeks. I couldn’t believe that Steve-O wasn’t eliminated the first week…I guess he was a better dancer than I gave him credit for…

I’m also back to a CD-burning spree. Not making new CDs, but rather going through my old college-era CDs and burning them to iTunes. With a few exceptions, the quality is doing well enough. This was something I started back in North Carolina about a year ago, but then got distracted for obvious reasons. I’m finally back and it’s like lightning on my new computer! I also managed to get my backup hard drive that’s still connected to my PC to backup the music 2x weekly.

Anyhow, I’m still getting the hang of things around here, starting with keeping up with all the activities the kids have: soccer, school field trips, dentist/doctor’s appointments, birthday parties, etc. Dave had a train show last week that I assisted with, and this coming weekend Dave is headed to Pennsylvania to enjoy a weekend of railfanning with some friends.

From 2009 04 20 JacobTimmySoccerUniforms

Here are the boys hamming it up in their soccer uniforms last week.

From 2009 04 23 Timmy_ChildCare_GiffordFarm

Timmy’s child care class went to a petting zoo and Timmy had a wonderful time!  I tagged along as a chaperone.

From 2009 04 25 DaveLayout_BurkeHS_TrainShow

Dave is on the far right in the maroon t-shirt. The “crowd” you see around his layout was typical during most of the show…he had at least 1 party there observing. Dave allowed some children to operate if it wasn’t too crowded (and if the child was well-behaved). Timmy spent quite a while operating on Saturday morning while I went with Jacob to the Apple Store up the street for a Mac User’s workshop.

I’m now being beckoned to help wash dishes, so I’ll close here. I wish I had a little more to talk about, maybe I’ll speak more about the spring cleaning I’m enduring right now, we’ll see.  I had these artificial nails put on last weekend for an Air Force formal event — I wore a DRESS! for the first time in 15 years…no formal AF uniform!  (Pictures are forthcoming).  Anyway, the nails made it pretty difficult to type.

*Update: I just trimmed down those artificial nails.  They’re acrylics, so I was nervous about taking nail clippers to them, for fear their might simply shatter, but it did well enough and now my nice nails are at a reasonable length.
23. April 2009 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been mulling this one for a while…

I’ve been home about 11 days now.  For the most part, things have been fine.  I’ve gotten back into the routine…somewhat.  I have to admit, having the new Macbook has been more of a distractor than anything else in terms of keeping to the housework, the kids and a couple of loose ends related to my deployment.

I figured I’d write about some various things on my mind these past couple weeks.  Not everyone who I mention necessarily reads this blog, but perhaps one day if someone Googles a person’s name, this post will come up.

First off, I owe a thank you to all of the folks who helped me prepare for this deployment.  This is a varied listing, from MSgts Lehman and Beaupre, who made phone calls and arranged for a lot of my training to be done from Offutt, to MSgt Curtis at Air Force Weather Agency, who made my local arrangements for weapons, chemical/biological warfare training, and answered my questions about medical outprocessing.  These senior non-commissioned officers made magic happen so that I could leave for the deployment from home instead of from South Carolina.  They even arranged it so I could get some drill pay to compensate me for the time spent just doing online training — about 40 hours worth!  I also need to thank the Veeneman and Anderson families, who provided hours of Timmy babysitting when there wasn’t space in the Offutt Child Development Center.

Thanks to everyone who sent me e-mails and care packages while I was gone.  This includes the Goldman, Warlick, Buckler, Vollmer (both the Nebraska and New York Vollmers), Fox, and Gifford families.  You listened to my requests for St. Patrick’s Day goodies, 100-Calorie Chessmen, toilet paper,  and single-serve sugar-free drink mix packets.

Thanks also to those who made my deployment experience outstanding while on shift…this could never be done without great people who continued to find a sense a humor, kept things “real” and kept their chins up even when things weren’t going hunkey-dorey.  There’s no way I’m going to include all the names, but you know who you are.  I learned so much about leadership, officership and military professionalism in general.  I will carry those lessons for the rest of my military career.

To the members of the weather team with whom I had the honor of serving: Maj Matt Hauke, Lt Joey Clevenger, AGC Angel Rossy, MSgt Chris Canarina and SSgt Mike Main.  To Lt Clevenger and SSgt Main in particular, they were my night shift compadres and I don’t know how many times they kept me in line — their seasoned, experienced work in CENTCOM helped keep me looking good!  Thanks!

To my deployment buddies — those who emerged from my crazy active duty past to cross paths with me halfway around the world: Maj Rose Lathrop, Maj Kasi Traweek and Capt Paul Bryan.  Thanks for taking time out of your schedules so we can get together for Friday coffees and Saturday pizza/gyro lunches.  I was reminded of “Sex and the City” where the gals got together every weekend for lunch at a diner and would talk about anything and everything — Paul, I know you’re not a gal, but you could gossip/chat/emote as well as the rest of us!  Rose and Kasi, congratulations on your engagements, and Paul, congratulations on your new baby — I owe you a blanket, it’s coming this week, I promise!

I owe a special “thank you” to Maj Paul Gifford — yes, that same Paul you’ve heard me talk about for quite some time.  He’s the one who stepped up with me to divide our 179-day deployment in half.  For this to work, we both had to be medically, physically, and duty qualified.  We were putting an incredible amount of trust in each other and I thank Paul for coming through on his end of the bargain…

Last, but certainly not least, the biggest thank you of all goes to my awesome family:

Dave: if you remember, I got the “invitation” for this trip the same week you were feverishly making edits to your dissertation for that last Dr. Lackmann signature!  This past July.  On top of finishing your dissertation and getting the family ready to move, you cleared your mind enough to give me the chance to press forward with preparing for my trip.  I know you weren’t jumping up and down saying “Please go, Patricia!”, but you helped me work out the timeline, helped with childcare during preparations and — most of all — played SINGLE DAD for 4 months during the worst winter you’d ever experienced.  I wondered if you had a catastrophe-free week: Howie’s ACL injury, all 3 of you with colds, flooded basement, van repairs. Getting to talk, via phone, webcam or even IM chat with you was the highlight of my time over there…thank you!

Jacob and Timmy: to my babies!  You two are amazing — Jacob, you continued to thrive in school and trusted that I would be home in “100 days”.  Timmy, I can’t believe how much you’ve grown since I left — you’re now READING and talking so well!  I loved talking and web-chatting with you while I was away, hearing your stories always put such a smile on my face.  Thank you for all the letters and artwork, too.  Jacob, your Groundhog decorated our weather section for about a month, while we celebrated a Groundhog’s Day…over…and over…and over.

While I was deployed, I found out there are some limited job opportunities here at Offutt, so I’ll be transferring units later this summer.  I love my unit at Shaw, but it’s time to move on and minimize these commutes.

I don’t plan to volunteer for another deployment.  If I get sent over, I’ll serve honorably…but it does lead me to a new question: “What now?”  A couple options have crossed my mind — at the forefront is looking into becoming a math teacher.  There’s a program called “Troops to Teachers” that is supposed to offer some flexibility for getting teacher certifications.

In closing, I was so glad I was able to be part of the Global War on Terror.  I was in grad school on 9/11 and I remember feeling like the most useless member of our military — I remember trying to donate blood and being told that the Red Cross wouldn’t even take my blood because I had spent time along the Korean DMZ.   To be able to see how we’re running our war, and seeing how incredibly tough it is to forecast the weather for Iraq and Afghanistan, was an experience I’ll never forget.

21. April 2009 · Comments Off on iPhoto — For a Good Laugh · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

So I’m having a grand old time working on organizing my photos on my Macbook.  There’s software called “iPhoto” that seems quite intelligent.

I’ve already imported all my pictures from our desktop (32,000+ photos, about 30GB).

So one of the features I’m having fun with is iPhoto’s Face Recognition program.  Called “Faces”, based on a few initial tags in your photo albums, “Faces” will run through all your other photos and attempt to find other pictures that also have that particular face.

If done right, you can tag the faces on your photo, then upload them to something like Facebook, where the tags will also upload.

iPhoto also then categorizes all the photos by face, so if you click on “Howie”, ideally you’d see all photos where our dog, Howie, has been tagged.

As you can see in the first picture here, at the beginning of the “Faces” listing, iPhoto does a pretty good job matching my faces. But then, as you scroll down, you see some other faces appear: Jacob and even Maryann the Fotomom.

This was GREAT when I was tagging pictures of Dave.  Every white person with glasses showed up: Joe (Dave’s college roommate), Wendy Warlick, both Andy AND Suzy McNabb, our friend Bill from grad school, even a number of officers I worked with in the desert recently, especially if he had glasses!

Dave was wearing his military hat with Captain’s bars in several of his pictures, so one of the “Faces” that appeared was of a four-month-old Jacob wearing Daddy’s Captain’s hat.  Ha ha!

It’s certainly a good laugh…fortunately, as you go through each pass of tagging photos, you can run “Faces” again and each attempt will be improved.

19. April 2009 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

The kitchen laptop has officially been REPLACED!


I haven’t been this excited about computer stuff in a really long time — I’ve been looking forward to getting a new laptop for many months, and for once I was going to save up and get something I REALLY wanted.

After those months in the desert, getting kicked off the WiFi just because someone with a Macbook sits next to me got quite old.

So today I marched down to the Apple Store in West Omaha, took advantage of their “Personal Shopper” service and walked out of there with a Macbook of my very own!  It’s AMAZING!  It immediately hopped onto my WiFi (yes, after I gave it the security code) and I was surfing SO FAST!

A couple weeks ago Dave’s laptop ran into some troubles with the hinge that keeps the computer open, so he’s contemplating getting a Macbook of his own.  They’re offering a military discount, which made it even more appealing!  He’s taking a trip in a couple weeks so it’d be nice if he had a new computer to take along.

The Macbook I got was the most basic of the aluminum models (there’s a white model that costs less, but the aluminum seemed more durable), which has a special multi-function touch pad, it doesn’t work like a typical PC-laptop touch pad, you have to learn some new moves for scrolling and zooming in and out…much like what you can do with an iPhone.  It has a built-in webcam, which is nice, and when I plugged in my iPhone to it, it automatically synced with iCalendar, iPhotos, iTunes and my Address Book.  I didn’t have to do a thing!

Surfing the web has been like lightning, and even task-intensive sites like Facebook have been a breeze to navigate.  I haven’t had this easy a time with our PCs since we moved to Omaha.

So it case you hadn’t noticed, I’m pretty excited about this.

I’ll leave you with this silly picture of me, taken from the built-in webcam. You can see how happy I am:

15. April 2009 · Comments Off on Weather Webcam Fun · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Now that I’m home, I’m slowly getting back to normal. One of the things that was on my mind while I was away was setting up one of our webcams (that we used to keep in touch during my deployment) as a weather webcam, that connects to our home weather station.

So here you go. Have some fun and scroll down on the webcam page to the calendar and select “View Video” to see a daily 24-hour loop. This will look better in 2-3 days when we have some steady-state views. I’ve been adjusting the timestamp, viewing angle and resolution so it isn’t perfect at the moment.

You can also look to the right and see the new, improved weather sticker for our weather station. The weather observation is from our backyard, while the webcam is pointing out our front window, aimed towards the north-northwest. It’s supposed to auto-update about once a minute.

If you want a quick look at the past 24-hours’ weather, play the video below. Pardon the quality if you view this before mid-day Thursday:

11. April 2009 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Greetings from Detroit! I’ve two legs down on this journey, three to
go. The flights from Doha to Amsterdam, and from Amsterdam to Detroit
were more or less without incident (save a broken shoe heel from an
overambitious beverage cart that I didn’t notice till I had
I’m now getting ready to board my flight to Colmbia, SC where folks
from my unit will meet me at the airport to get some of my equipment
and perhaps have me sign a couple forms.
Then I will continue my journey home from Columbia to Chicago, then
finally homeward bound to Omaha.
I found some wonderful gifts for the boys at the Doha Duty Free shop,
including some European Easter candy that I remember getting at
Eastertime in 1980 in Hong Kong….when I was the same age as Jacob!!!
I can’t wait to see my boys again!!!!

11. April 2009 · Comments Off on Books Read on this Deployment – The Complete List · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

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
9.) Holy Cow, Sarah Macdonald: 7 Mar 09
10.) Blow Fly, Patricia Cornwell, 16 Mar 09
11.) Trace, Patricia Cornwell, 23 Mar 09
12.) Book of the Dead, Patricia Cornwell, 31 Mar 09
13.) The Last Templar, Raymond Khoury, 10 Apr 09

10. April 2009 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather be here than Bagram or Balad. The trips off base were great and I’m glad I took the risk to venture out there. But this is still a deployed location and I had to do without quite a bit.

Here’s a list of things I won’t miss about being here…

1.) Wearing reflective belts at night even though the AF Physical Fitness uniform is covered in reflective screen printing.
2.) The dust.
3.) Eating breakfast at dinnertime, and dinner at lunchtime, and lunch at breakfasttime.
4.) The dust.
5.) Having a first sergeant come up to me outside to ask me to tuck in my fitness shirt all the way. Like he was standing there waiting for me to arrive to give him something to do.
6.) The dust.
7.) Wearing reflective belts at night around my uniform, and around my backpack.
8.) The dust.
9.) Trudging home from work in 90 degree temperatures along the roadside while a young Airman whizzes past me in an air conditioned 2009 Ford F-150 with no other passengers.
10.) The dust.
11.) The smell of ASS in the trailers when we weren’t able to open the doors periodically. One giant collective fart.
12.) The dust.
13.) The smell of dead animals right outside the entrance to the dining facilities. There’s no better way to perk up your appetite.
14.) The dust.
15.) The dining hall main line servers (not military) who always would offer me TWO steaks, TWO pieces of lasagna, TWO Belgian waffles. What, did they think I wasn’t fat enough?
16.) The dust.
17.) Having to walk 90 seconds to the latrine if I have to pee in the middle of my sleep time…and having to remember to tuck in my uniform shirt and put on my reflective belt first.
18.) The dust.
19.) Having to reduce my entire life down to the contents of two suitcases.
20.) The dust.

08. April 2009 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

“Taken off the line?”

Yeah, I guess it’s a reference to putting a fighting unit in reserve after serving on the front lines for a while. That’s how I feel now. I’m no longer on the work schedule. My mission is to get home safely.

Paul is here, he’s fully trained and now has the helm of the weather team’s night shift. The training was a very busy time, and not without drama…we have to shoehorn the training here with real-world events and real weather issues. I’m popping in and out of the workcenter, mainly to say “goodbye” to the various people with whom I had the honor of serving alongside, but don’t ask me anything about the weather over Iraq or Afghanistan. I don’t know!

I also had some non-weather related drama this past week, with lots of troubles scheduling a flight home. I was cleared to leave anytime starting today, and about 6 hours ago I received my flight information. What a relief. I wasn’t as concerned with when I’d be headed home as much as simply knowing something to pass on to the family and colleagues. I should be home by the end of this weekend.

I went to my last weekly social tent call this past Tuesday and as is tradition, I put some money on the bar to celebrate it being my last week. It certainly didn’t hurt that I had taken 2nd place in the Air Mobility Division’s NCAA Bracket contest, much to the chagrin of the 20 other guys who didn’t appreciate my “Barbie’s Dream Bracket” prediction of UNC v. Michigan State for the championship game. I had predicted Michigan State to take it all, but oh well.

I got a lot of great pictures from Tuesday but here’s a sampling I’ll share. Working the night shift was awesome, we could be honest with each other and focus on getting the job done without the politics of day-shift issues like pretty Powerpoint slides for the generals.

Here’s proof that my replacement did indeed arrive and is doing well. That I didn’t kill him during our training! Ha ha! Just kidding! Paul was a great student despite the brutal schedule we gave him!

Me with some of my night shift colleagues. Yes, I’m the only girl in the picture above, but there were other ladies around…

See? That’s Sarah on the left (Royal Air Force) and Mel on the right (Royal Australian Air Force).

This is for Jacob. This young man, who goes by “Buddy”, flies A-10s in the war and has been temporarily assigned to our unit here for a couple weeks to serve as a liaison between his squadron and the air war planners. His patch is that of the Expeditionary Flying Tigers and I told him about how that’s Jacob’s favorite airplane, the Flying Tigers A-10! He gave me a unit patch for Jacob!

Now that I’m “off the line”, I have been converting my sleep schedule into more of a swing shift schedule, to better match Central Daylight Time. I have the time to work on this blog entry, upload about 50 new pictures, and I also have a chance to work out 1-2 more times before I head to the airport. In fact, I think I’ll go to the gym right now!

Just like on my trip here, I’ll send a note or two on my trip home, so long as I can pick up WiFi on my layover in Europe, and once I’m back in the states my phone can hop back on the AT&T network and I can write more often!

I absolutely can’t wait to see my boys again — knowing it’ll be this weekend some time is such a great feeling!