29. October 2012 · Comments Off on Thoughts on Sandy, Social Media, and the 70s Seen Through Argo’s Camera Lens · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Who else remembers TV sets looking like this? Sans remote control. If you want to change the channel, you had to get up out of your chair. Not all TVs sets could even connect to cable! Just an antenna!

Yes, an eclectic mix of topics, I know.

Greetings from my AF Reserve two-week tour. I’m sitting in my billeting room rather bored right now. The night shift I was scheduled for is canceled, and I had been sleeping mornings so be ready for my night shifts. I now flip back to day shifts; this will be interesting.  I woke up this morning at 11:30am! And now I need to be able to go to bed by about midnight.

Anyway, we’ve all been busy at work keeping tabs on Hurricane-now-Superstorm Sandy. When I’m off duty, I have The Weather Channel on, with Twitter, Facebook and Google+ all screaming newsfeeds at me about the storm.

You don’t have to be subscribed to any social media to keep in touch: Go ahead, check it out!

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18. October 2012 · Comments Off on Preparing for a Two Week Tour… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

Photo of Moody AFB Commissary’s single long line. This week’s commissary trip brought back memories of our “big shopping” trips we would take to Langley AFB’s commissary as a kid. Photo: Air Force News.

You might or might not remember my post from when we first moved to Florida in 2010. When we have to move from one military assignment to another, we often will relinquish some of our pantry goods and cleaning wares.  Such as vinegar, soy sauce, household cleaners, Lysol sprays, and any perishables in the fridge and freezer. Friends are usually happy to take that stuff off our hands. We’ve come to expect that type of trading around when living in a military community.

This weekend we’re going camping. Right after the camping trip, I’m hopping on a flight back to Nebraska for my two-week Air Force Reserve tour. Why do I do this to myself?  I don’t know…

I try to help Dave plan meals before I leave on these trips, and in this case, I offered to stock up on as much food as I could for the kids’ quick-and-easy favorites: tacos, spaghetti, pizza (with a Boboli crust), turkey burgers, etc. On Tuesday I went to the NAS Pensacola commissary to stock up on groceries for this weekend’s camping, plus I attempted to buy 2 weeks of groceries for my boys while I’m gone.  I had another appointment in Pensacola this week, which is why I didn’t go to Hurlburt’s commissary this time.

I usually go grocery shopping weekly. I have a pretty good rudimentary meal planning system down pat and no one here starves. One shopping cart typically fits the bill, and everything fits in my pantry and fridge when I get it home. I don’t have a large pantry, nor do I have substantial freezer space. So once a week works well.

My boys eat a lot more than they used to. This started over the summer…we always had one son eating a ton with a growth spurt, and the other one playing picky eater. They now both eat…eat…eat…eat…

Two+ weeks worth of lunch stuff, dinner ideas, cereal, bread, eggs, milk, orange juice and meats added up in a hurry. I don’t think I’ve ever had to pay more than $300 for a batch of groceries other than that first time grocery shopping at a new location. For the first time on Tuesday, I did.

It brought back memories of the “big shopping” trips my parents would take approximately once a month when I was growing up. When we were living in Norfolk, our whole family would load into the car and drive to the commissary at Langley AFB and I have memories of using two shopping carts while my parents would stock up on meats, frozen foods and pantry goods for the month. I have memories of the LONG lines* if we were shopping on the Saturday after a military payday…the single line would extend back through the frozen food aisles to the dairy…and maybe even to the meat area at the back of the store if everyone was taking their post-payday, pre-holiday shopping trip.

*A little military lifestyle lesson here: Unlike most grocery stores, checkout areas at military commissaries will establish a SINGLE line, and whoever is at the head of the line will take the next available open register. Bigger commissaries have these funny machines — centrally located near the head of the queue — that announce “Next, Please” with the register number lit up. This blog post explains the single line, as well as many other nuances of the military commissary. Most civilians will see such queueing techniques mainly on Black Friday at stores like Old Navy and Best Buy (although Best Buy does it all the time now, if memory serves).

The monthly shopping thing? It’s a sensible way to shop if you plan properly. Which I don’t. My family simply can’t plan that well…

It’s also a sensible way to shop if you have the space to keep all that stuff. Which I also don’t. This house is spacious enough for us, but not in pantry space.

This turned into a problem when I got home on Tuesday. I didn’t have space for everything…my fridges and freezers (I have two refrigerator/freezers, one in the kitchen and one out in the garage) are packed full, and so is the pantry. I ended up having to pre-load the bags with the camping non-perishables to free up space.

To conclude, the big shopping trips don’t seem as convenient in our current state of storage. Perhaps one day we’ll have a bigger pantry, bigger fridge or a deep freezer with which we can long-term store more goods. But not in this house.

I met up with Ms. Gray the day before the interview itself to verify the time and location. Don’t worry, I wore something a little more professional to the interview itself.

I did something completely out of my comfort zone recently. I interviewed somebody and then wrote about the interview for GeekMom. It had nothing to do with meteorology or the Air Force — so it was pretty tough for me.

Because I had applied for media access to attend Dragon*Con last Labor Day weekend (i.e., a free four-day ticket!), I received an invitation to request interviews with up to three celebrity guests of my choosing.

There were a few rules, such as each media outlet (in my case, Wired.com’s GeekMom blog) having a limited number of guests with whom we could request access. I believe we could only interview five guests total, but each individual in the group could only request three. I don’t remember the specifics.

The other GeekMom at Dragon*Con with media access got interviews with Jane Espensen (writer and producer of such shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Torchwood and Once Upon a Time) and John Barrowman (star of Torchwood and guest star on BBC’s Doctor Who).

I looked at the guest list and decided to look for fellow geeky moms to interview. I found two that caught my attention: Erin Gray (of Buck Rogers and Silver Spoons) and Kathy Najimy (of Sister Act, Veronica’s Closet and the voice of Peggy Hill on King of the Hill). Both were involved with their acting careers while their children were young, and both actresses are strong outspoken women who support causes that empower women.

The afternoon before leaving for Dragon*Con, I received an email with a date/time/location for an interview Erin Gray. I never did hear back from Ms. Najimy.

I was pleased as punch, but also nervous! I had one evening — on top of packing for the long weekend — to figure out questions for Ms. Gray. I consulted fellow GeekMoms who were very helpful in providing questions. I also consulted the Dragon*Con Media Relations website that had some good tips about researching our subjects and coming up with effective questions.

Dave took the boys to the NASA Robotics Workshop that took place at the same time as the interview. I expected maybe 20 minutes tops for the interview!

But Ms. Gray gave GeekMom a whopping 50 minutes of her time and she had so much to say in response to each of the 6 questions I had asked (I had 9 questions prepared; I didn’t expect to get through more than 4). I used my iPhone Voice Memo app to record the entire interview. This was great because I could write about all the other topics while they were fresh in my mind, and when I was ready, I was able to replay the entire interview.

I went to Nebraska for some AF work in late September. In the evenings I could sit at the desk in my billeting (i.e., lodging) room and slowly transcribe the audio recordings.  It took all week to get everything transcribed!  When it was all done, it was over 6700 words transcribed!

After transcribing the words, I had an even more difficult task ahead of me.  How do I turn it into something people will want to read? I needed to tie together the answers to her questions into a coherent story, if you will.

I had no idea how to do this. I read several other interviews that had been done on GeekMom, plus I looked at interviews with celebrities in magazines for inspiration (such as an interview with Zoe Saldana in the September issue of Delta Airlines Sky magazine, available on my flight to and from Omaha).

I got advice from other GeekMom writers, they gave me an idea of what liberties I could take with the raw transcripts to make the storylines flow more smoothly.

It was still difficult. It took me 10 calendar days (not all at once, but I worked with it on most evenings) to put it all together. Then I proofread it, and then proofread it again…and again…and again.

Procrastinating on the post was a blessing in disguise, actually: my moving the publication of the post into October, we were able to tie in Ms. Gray’s involvement with October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities.

Anyway, I did my best with it, but not without a lot of soul searching and being near tears several times, wondering “What did I get myself into?”  I’m a meteorologist, not a journalist!

I was then met with another challenge — this interview write up quickly turned into the LONGEST post I’d ever done for GeekMom. So I asked the GeekMom editors for advice on whether to break up the post into multiple parts (which I had done with my writings about the Facebook Timeline and our Disney Cruise) or leave it in one piece but allow readers to page through.

I decided to leave the interview write up in one piece and it ended up at around 4900 words.  Definitely a record for my 20 months with GeekMom. My average post is between 1000-2000 words.

(If only I got paid per word…some writers can earn 50 cents to several dollars PER WORD!!! But that’s okay, I have a job already….).

I hope you enjoy it!

For those who didn’t know, I have a Tumblr page, it’s little more than a routing for my blog posts here.  I also send Instagram photos over there.  Very low maintenance.

But I’ve been plagued with finding a good WordPress blog plug-in to automatically route Major Mom posts over there.  So I’m trying a new one.

Let’s see if this one (NextScript) it works.

And let me include a random photo too:

Nom nom nom….we went to Shane’s Rib Shack for dinner tonight.


Our attention-to-detail-lover Jacob found Easter Eggs that none of the rest of us did. Here he’s pointing out a cloud “vomiting” rain.

In the spirit of Halloween, allow me to present a book review for you!

Five Little Zombies (and Fred) is a “children’s book that’s not for children”, written by my friend and GeekMom colleague, Jules Sherred and illustrated by Matt Schubbe.

I had the honor of seeing and hearing about Jule’s book idea from its infancy. She told all the GeekMom writers about her IndieGoGo campaign earlier this summer, and contributors to the campaign received sneak-peek MP3s, illustrations and storylines as the assorted funding milestones were reached.

The book is a very fun read with plenty of grown-up humor interlaced throughout. It’s the story of Fred being chased by five zombies (as you probably assumed). The dialogue flows very similarly to the familiar “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” song/rhyme. Fred’s able to kill most of the zombies, no thanks to the Canadian Mountie he keeps asking for assistance. But if you want the whole story, you’d better read it for yourself!

The book’s illustrations are whimsical and put smiles on my whole family’s face! It’s illustrated in the style of a young child’s book, but trust me, you probably won’t want read this to your two-year-old. If your kids are familiar with zombies and you have no problems with teaching your children what to do in case of a zombie apocalypse, by all means, this will make a GREAT gift!

Isn’t Fred cute? Don’t be suckered in by his cuteness…he takes out several zombies! Image: Amazon.com

Let me tell you about what makes this book so special. You need to pay attention to the numerous hidden stories in the background. After reading about Fred’s adventures, go back to the beginning and check it out again…this time, look at the mini-stories. Between the cows, penguins, polar bears, people, and clouds, there are so many other fun things going on!

Jules is a HUGE Star Trek fan, and she told me a little secret: It’s no accident that Fred is wearing a Red Shirt!

Do you like how cute Fred is? In addition to the book, be sure to check out the Fred merchandise and digital music downloads that are available. The “theme song” is an awesome accompaniment to the book and you can listen to it and buy it (along with with the also-awesome “Ballad of Fred”) for just $2 through this link.

Five Little Zombies (and Fred) is available as a paperback or for your eReader and will make a great gift this Halloween or Christmas for your friends who are actively preparing for the apocalypse.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes….

08. October 2012 · Comments Off on Happy Halloween: A Decorating Idea · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,


I love my ghosts! Last year my ghost door hanging and my 10 hanging ghosts got moldy from one too many humid Florida Octobers. So I trashed them rather then packaging them up with all of our costumes for a year.

This year I decided to make another batch of ghosts…and I figured I’d share this fun and easy homemade Halloween craft with you! And you get to recycle/repurpose plastic grocery bags, so win win for reducing waste!

Materials required:

  • One package of Gerber white flatfold diapers. I’ve included a picture of the package label below. Don’t get “prefolds”; they won’t work. You could also buy a cheap white sheet set and cut the fabric into approximately 2′ x 2′ squares.
  • Transparent monofilament, such as inexpensive fishing line. This will make the ghosts appear to float.
  • Stuffing for the heads of the ghosts: I used plastic grocery bags, preferably white ones like Walmart.
  • Twist ties or pipe cleaners

It’s all pretty straightforward: wad up 2-3 plastic grocery bags and cinch them in a diaper with a twist tie or pipe cleaner. Then thread a needle with some monofilament (about 1 yard per ghost) to make a hanging loop through the top of the head.  Simply hang them outside on your favorite tree or under your favorite eave…and let them blow in the wind!

This is the packaging to the diapers I picked up at Walmart.

We have fishing gear, so I didn’t have to travel far to find some monofilament…

Thread the monofilament through the very top of the ghost.

07. October 2012 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 35: Seacrest Wolf Preserve, Chipley, FL (and other similar facilities) · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

Earlier this year a Facebook friend (a friend from my childhood, actually) had visited the Seacrest Wolf Preserve on a recent weekend trip down from her Air Force home in Montgomery, AL.  The pictures of her with a wolf puppy were simply PRECIOUS.

For those who didn’t know, our oldest son Jacob is a HUGE fan of wolves. He always gravitates towards wolves and other canis-type animals when given a choice. And he has quite the collection of stuffed wolves also.

With some simple research I figured this would make a great surprise for Jacob, especially for his birthday in September! Seacrest is the only wolf preserve in the southeast. There are others around the country, such as in Colorado, New Jersey and Ohio, but nothing this far south.  We were fortunate to live less than 100 miles away.

The Seacrest Wolf Preserve only offers tours to the general public on Saturdays (but private tours can be arranged for groups), and our September calendar was pretty full on Saturdays, between Jacob’s birthday party and my being away for two Saturdays in a row for my Air Force Reserve work.

So we made the arrangements for this past Saturday and loaded the kids in the car at 9:30am and told them “It’s a surprise!”

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