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Archive for 2008

Nov 18 2008

Kind Slug Driver

Posted by Dale @ 8:37 am in Commute

I think Mugs believed that once I bought my new car, I would start driving to the Pentagon everyday rather than riding as a slug. But I’m happy to report that I haven’t given up riding with strangers each day. However, I need to drive to work about 1-2 times each week to attend frequent meetings at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the Topographic Engineering Center (TEC). With the thought of riding my motorcycle in the middle of a Virginia winter, I bought a Honda Civic. When I got home from the dealer, I took the kids for a drive while Mugs stopped by McDonalds to pick up some fast food. Zeke kept asking “Daddy, is this the Manry family vehicle?” I kept saying “Yes, I bought a new car.” He was very relieved to see Mugs drive up. Pointing to the van, he stated “This is the Manry family vehicle!” After thinking about it for a bit, he declared that the new car is “the slug car.”  So now I drive the slug car to the commuter lot, park, and get in line with the other slugs. On the days I need to drive to work, I stop by the lot and pick up slugs.

Yesterday was a slug day. The line was very short in the morning, and I waited no more than 5 minutes before getting a ride. That afternoon, the line for pickup at the Pentagon was much longer. I probably should have stayed in the office another 30 minutes before getting in line. But you know how we government employees are… always watching the clock! Anyway, the ride home was uneventful, and I had a little nap. Back at the lot, I got in the slug car and drove home. When I parked in the garage and got out, I realized I had left my bag in the car I rode in from the Pentagon. I didn’t have time to do anything about it because the kids’ school was having a skate night at the rink last night. So we ate dinner and went skating. I’m still sore this morning, but that’s another story.

When we got home, there was a message on the answering machine from the driver saying he had found my bag in his car. The tag in the bag had my name and our old Wisconsin address (from Grad School). He looked me up in the phonebook and gave me a call. He offered to meet me at the commuter lot right then to return the bag. Mugs gave me a bar of Swiss chocolate she bought at the commissary to give as a thank you. I met him at the lot 5 minutes later and exchanged 1 bar of chocolate for my bag. He laughed when I gave him the chocolate. Mugs felt sorry for me and gave me a box of Sees chocolates when I got home!

Nov 12 2008

Trading an Old Truck for a New Chair

Posted by Mugs @ 12:17 am in Family

A few weeks back my husband received a check in the mail from my Father.  I called to ask my Mom if she knew that my Dad had sent Dale a check.  As I have aged and they have aged, I think it’s best to verify that they both are aware of what the other is doing.  My Mom quickly put my Father on the phone and My Father relayed the following story…A few weeks prior, he had bought a new car.  Instead of trading in his old car, he decided to trade in Dale’s old Ford F150 extended cab truck.  We had left the truck with them when we moved to Hawaii 5 years ago.  It wasn’t worth much then, and it certainly wasn’t worth much now.  But, my Dad, being my Dad, loves to trade trash for treasure and live to tell the tale.  He asked the dealer what he would give him for the truck, and the dealer told him a price that my Dad deemed too low.  So, my Dad walked out.  The dealer soon came running outside to coax my Dad back inside with a better offer.  One of the great joys of my Father’s life is to walk out of dealerships and have car salesmen run out to coax him back.  He convinced the dealer to give him more money for the truck and then sent Dale the check for the trade in.

It was decided that Dale should use the money to buy himself a new chair.  Dale’s recliner is 13 years old.  I bought it for him for Father’s day when Josiah was a baby.  It has been used as a baby rocker for all four children, a sleeping location for several bouts of bronchitis, the most desired location for tv watching, a fur collector and scratching post for pets.  It has been much loved.  However, it has seen 6 moves, sits at a slant, and has a broken recline.  When it arrived last Autumn, I relegated it to the basement with Dale’s coffee cups and military gifts.  After he came home, he brought it back upstairs for all to admire.  He really needed a new chair, and my Father, who has a great love for comfy chairs agreed.

So, the chair shopping commenced.  Now, Dale hates to shop.  He wants to walk into a store, pick up the item he needs, pay and get out as fast as possible.  Looking at the options, considering the choices, visiting multiple stores, and dealing with sales people is unpleasant at best.  The first shopping day was without children and consisted of three furniture stores.  In the last one we found a chair that we both liked, but at this point, he was so sick of shopping that we left.  The next five store shopping day added Zeke to the mix and Zeke decided to be full on: jumping on the furniture, yelling loudly, and constantly asking Dale, “Daddy, are you going to buy this chair?”  “Daddy, are you going to buy this chair?”  “Daddy, are you going to buy this chair?”  Zeke would pull recliner handles, spin the chairs in circles, and jump all over them.  The combination of an obnoxious child and pushy sales people following us around kept Dale’s scowl etched permanently on his face.  In the end, we went back to the chair we liked in store number three.  When we went up to pay, we were informed that the next shipment of chairs would not arrive until December 24th.  All that shopping, and no chair to take with him.  Just like the kids, he has to wait until Christmas to open his present.

Nov 03 2008

Mii Characters

Posted by Mugs @ 9:47 pm in Family

I will be happy when tomorrow arrives and the 2 year election cycle ends.  Because I live in Virginia, a swing state, I receive quite a few calls from Joe the Plumber.  Sometimes he is from Mannasas, Virgina and sometimes he is from Fairfax, Virginia.  Sometimes he tells me to vote Republican, sometimes he tells me to vote Democrat.  Joe the Plumber is everywhere, even on this blog.  I read the Washington Post daily and will be greatly relieved when the paper refocuses on something other than the election.  When I was a kid, I was oblivious to election news, but my children have no such luck.  They come home from school and tell me all the inaccurate things said by their classmates about the candidates.  I then go into great detail to explain why most information is a distortion of the truth.  Josiah made one attempt to explain to a classmate that something they were saying was inaccurate.  He soon discovered that most people prefer to believe what they want to believe, whether it is true or not.  Even Zeke, at 4 years old, has not escaped.  He came upstairs the other day and told me “Barrack Obama”.  I asked him how he knew that name.  “He’s a Mii on Check Me Out,” he said.  Sure enough, I went downstairs to look at Barrack Obama and Sarah Palin on the Wii’s Check Me Out channel.  When the election effects the Wii and the World Series, it’s a bit excessive.

I am not opposed to people passionately supporting their candidates and I wish every one would vote.  However, there are those who claim Jesus Christ as Savior, who forget, in the midst of their passionate arguments for their candidate, that it is how they show Christ to the world that is most important.  If in proclaiming a candidate or defaming his opponent, we display no humility, we are a poor witness of Christ.  When we are not Christ like in all we do and say, when we show no love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control, we bring no honor to His name.  “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of propecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.”

Oct 25 2008

Shuffling the Deck

Posted by Mugs @ 8:30 pm in Family

As a parent, there is an endless list of things I feel obligated to teach my children: toilet training, getting dressed, making a bed, reading, counting, shoveling, good manners, how to shake hands, riding a bike, etc.  Often there arrive days when I suddenly become aware that I have failed to teach them a critical skill.  This happened a few days ago when I realized that none of my children could shuffle a deck of cards.  Card games were an ongoing activity while I was growing up in the Meloch home.  Cribbage was played the most and Eucre was most loved.  We played cards with each other, with relatives, with neighbors, and with friends.  When I left home and joined the Army, there was always a game of Spades going on somewhere in the Barracks.  Dale and I played endless games of Cribbage, taught everyone Eucre, mostly played Spades, and one summer learned Pinochle.  At our church at West Point, we played Dutch Blitz at a constant pace.  We have played newer card games with the kids like RataTatCat and Loot, but it has been awhile since we played older games like Rummy, Old Maid, Uno, and Skip-Bo.  Last night, we played Skip-Bo and I made them all practice shuffling.  Tonight, I decided to start teaching them games you play with a regular deck of cards.  We all sat down to play Hearts.  Zeke didn’t like the concept that losing was winning.  Abby almost gave up after getting alot of hearts and the Queen of Spades on two hands in a row.  Dale had no heart and played ruthlessly against all his children, even Zeke.  Gabe won in the end with a negative score.  Josiah lost, but started the game like a Meloch.  He sat down to play with a pile of pistachios.  I told him that he was being a good Meloch by sitting down to cards with a pile of nuts.  Dale quickly piped in that if you were playing cards with the Meloches, you were always sitting down with a bunch of nuts.

Oct 22 2008

Adjusting to Pentagon Life

Posted by Dale @ 8:39 am in Pentagon,Work

About two weeks ago, I attended a 1-day Staff Officer Orientation for personnel recently assigned to the Pentagon. The briefers included many senior officers and civilians from the Department of the Army, including Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Chief of Staff of the Army General George Casey. One of the first speakers, LTG David Huntoon, the Director of the Army Staff, talked about adjusting to life at the Pentagon. He remarked that most of us in the audience were coming from assignments with a lot of responsibilities to new jobs where we are only responsible for our little computer cubicle. He cautioned that we may have a difficult time adjusting to this change and lamenting about our fate in life. His sage advice was “Get over it”. Honestly, this transition has been much more difficult than I anticipated. My attitude wasn’t helped by the state of the cubicle I inherited (thanks, Espo).

I should have known what to expect. I replaced a very good friend, Espo. One of his online monikers is TrashMan. He is a hoarder. For some reason, though, I wasn’t mentally prepared for the piles of files, documents and folders on the desk. I have spent countless hours going through each document to identify what needs to be saved and what can be trashed. He promised he would organize everything before he left, and in his own way, he did. The morning after Espo moved to his new assignment (also in the DC area), I arrived to find the piles shifted around and labeled with yellow post-it notes saying:

  1. Look at 1st (But keep together… I will take some of it)
  2. Misc Classified Read Browse 2nd (or as time permits)
  3. Read when time
  4. Misc Stuff Peruse at Leisure
  5. Was Mostly Here
  6. Mostly Old, But I did Put some Here
  7. Real Old

After six weeks of work, I have almost finished the purge. Because I work in a secure facility, to discard any document, I have to review each page, tear it into small pieces and place the pieces in a burn bag for disposal. The burn bags are basically brown paper grocery bags for collecting classified materials for destruction. To date, I have filled twenty (20) burn bags! Espo has stopped by a couple of times in the midst of the purge. Although he hasn’t said anything, I can tell he is emotionally troubled by the amount of things I’ve sent away in burn bags. Oh well. As LTG Huntoon would say, he just needs to “Get over it”!