Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm a maniac!

Adam got up super early to go to the airport for a work trip to Las Vegas for the week. I slept in and then after breakfast got down to my task for the weekend: cleaning. Now, I'm a pretty tidy person. I like to do a little bit all the time and kind of keep the mess and dirt at a constant low level. I can't stand it when things pile up and then suddenly you are so overwhelmed you don't know where to start and you end up wallowing in your pajamas for a week eating cookies out of the box and lamenting the state of your life.... ahem. Maybe that's just me. Not surprisingly, in Hawaii things get dirty quickly and my normal routine of swiping and sorting here and there doesn't really do as good a job at keeping the mess below my radar. I've been mostly ignoring it since about April when I started noticing the dirt more. Of course, I still did the vacuuming and laundry and kept the kitchen/bathrooms clean. Just not gleaming and sparkly like I like things. With Adam being gone this weekend, I decided it was the perfect time to really get down and scrub.

I'm pleased to say my kitchen is SPOTLESS! Yes, I realize it will last all of about five minutes before the dust and dead bugs and sand start collecting again. For now it is clean. And by that, I mean I took everything out of the pantry and cleaned the corners in the back of the floor and vanquished a colony of ants, and reorganized everything. I opened all of the cabinets and confronted whatever was stashed inside them. I threw away about 3 bags of stuff that was old or I know we will never use, including a bunch of mismatched tupperware. I hate it when I put something in a container and then I can't find a lid for it! I pulled everything out of the fridge and scrubbed it down on the inside and threw away anything questionable. Same with the freezer. I scrubbed all the counters, then I swept and mopped the floor. All clean!

I also went out in the courtyard and swept up the whole place and watered all our pathetic plants and scrubbed off our outdoor table and chairs. Next I dusted the dining room and the living room and pulled a bunch of old books we never look at anymore off the shelves for goodwill.

I still need to dust the guest room and vacuum the downstairs and then the downstairs will be done. I'll finish it this evening before I sit down on the couch for the night. I think I will save the upstairs for tomorrow... there is not too much to be done up here. Except for the office. It's sort of our magnet for whatever crap we don't know what to do with. And we still haven't hung any of our pictures in there. I think that project will wait for Adam to come home. So mainly upstairs it is just my bathroom and our bedroom. A cleans his own bathroom... well, he will when he gets home even though he doesn't know it yet.

Ahhhh! I love it when home is clean and tidy! Makes me feel like my life is functioning properly haha.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I hope I was channeling Marilyn Monroe... or possibly that I became her for 3 seconds.

Dudes. The most embarassing thing just happened to me!!! Oh my lord, I can't even think about it. So the air conditioner at the gym where I work is broken or something and it's really hot in there. They have one of those industrial fan-blower thingies in there to cool things off. You know, one of the ones that sits on the ground and looks like a giant whistle?

Anyway, today it was pointed at the cardio equipment. It doesn't help things much, but I guess it's better than nothing. Well I finished my thing, rinsed off in the shower and put on my work clothes - a t-shirt and a poofy, gauzy skirt from Banana Republic. Well. With nary a thought in my head I proceeded to waltz right in between the cardio machines and ... THE FAN!

You may have guessed what happens next. Now before I continue I want you to look at that picture of the fan again. Notice the special way it blows air in an upward fashion, with incredible force, I might add.

I can only say I was regretting my choice of thong underwear this morning. Lordy be! Talk about a wardrobe malfunction. What did I do, you ask? I made a split-second desperate attempt to contain my skirt around my bum where it belongs instead of swirling up around my waist like a pile of autumn leaves in a gale. And yet, I somehow had the good sense to just keep walking, acting like nothing happened. Nothing to see here! Those two guys on the bikes had a GOOD day today. The worst (or best?) part about it was that I passed my boss not two seconds later on his way to get on the elliptical machine. Thank GOD, Jeebus, Oprah and Martha he was not already on there when I paraded by. Now THAT would have made things awkward.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What ended up happening?

I didn't go to the stinking VTC. I felt horrible about making Lt Col V do it instead, but everything inside me was screaming no no no. This morning I told him thanks for taking the bullet and I hope he doesn't secretly resent me now. He just laughed and said it was no problem and no worries. He was sincere too, really nice about it. So I feel better and the worst has passed for the moment. Until the next shitty thing they want me to do.

I had something else to tell you but I can't remember right now?

Oh well. It will probably come to me right after I log off.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dilemma Update

Well. My supervisor LtCol V said he told our boss Mr. G I wanted to be compensated for coming to work in the middle of the night. Mr. G apparently said, "We don't do that here.... it's DOD, we just say you can go home early." Nope. Wrong answer. I did my homework and printed out the guidelines covering night pay.

Night pay is paid for regularly scheduled work performed at night. This generally means work scheduled before the beginning of the administrative workweek. However, night pay is also paid for night work on a temporary assignment to a different daily tour of duty during the administrative workweek." (

Seems pretty cut and dry to me. I also spoke to our HR people who said they could make an alteration to my schedule to allow me to claim night pay. To be fair, HR did seem confused and told me no one had ever asked before. Which I find shocking: there are tons of people who end up working in the middle of the night for one thing or another, or even working all night. The DOD civilians who worked on the watch floor with Adam in DC got paid night differential so I know DOD does it. HR also said they don't have any guidelines published governing special pay for employees. Because everyone "just works it out within their directorates and gets comp time or whatever."

So I'm some kind of activist trailblazer here at PACOM.

Meanwhile, I guess Mr. G basically decided after talking to LtCol V that he didn't want to mess with the night pay so he told LtCol V (who is in the military and doesn't qualify for night pay) to go to the meeting because someone from our office needs to be there.

{Note that if/when we DO attend this thing, we'll just be in listening mode. In my opinion there is no reason we can't just read the slides and notes afterwards (which they are going to push to us anyway) and get in touch with the POC if we have questions (unlikely). It's not like we won't find out if there is something they want us to do (also unlikely). Our being there is all to show face and say someone was there from PACOM J5.}

I, of course, lost a night of sleep over it because I felt bad about making my supervisor suck a rotten egg because I am "being a baby" about the whole thing. There is certainly a culture around here that you just do things like this with a smile because it's "part of the job." Sort of similar to working in DC where we regularly worked 10+ hour days but no one ever tried to claim overtime. I mean, if you DID, your boss would tell you you need to finish your work within the allotted 40hours/week, and if that wasn't possible some of your work would be reallocated to someone else. Net effect = you lose legitimacy in the workplace.

There is some of that here too. And granted, if my job required me to work longer than 8 hours here, I wouldn't try to complain, I would just do it. I've gone in for 5 am VTCs before without complaining even though that would technically qualify for night differential too since it's between 6 pm-6 am. I wouldn't think of making a big deal out of it. But coming here at 2:30 am? I'm sorry but that seems ABOVE AND BEYOND the call of duty.

I'm willing to be told I'm being a whiny baby about this. Go ahead and call me out if you think that's the case. I even said that to my boss - hey, I'm willing to be told to go pound sand this is just part of the job. But he agreed that I was entitled to the pay if I worked in the middle of the night.

He said he is just concerned because this would be opening the proverbial can of worms. If I get paid then everyone will want to get paid for working in the middle of the night. Then will people start trying to claim overtime? It raises a bunch of questions which the command hasn't addressed. Which, AGAIN: shocking. No private company would be able to be run this way.

He said he will raise it up the chain of command and pursue the issue. Still I guess he didn't want to mess with it too much because when I sent him the paperwork by email yesterday he wrote me back and said LtCol V is going to attend instead kthxbai.

So that's where it stands. Yesterday it looked like I was going to attend after all, and get paid night pay for it. Today not so much. Although I'm still stuck here feeling like a tool because LtCol V is basically left carrying the water.


Monday, August 17, 2009


...but first: omg girls. I too have feverish - even desperate - dreams about a quiet house near a lake/mountain with a fireplace and space/quiet/solitude enough to calm my restless mind. I long for forest treks and dry sunshine and coolness. Of course, this dream would have to occur within a 30 minute drive of a Whole Foods and a well-equipped mall. Ha. But we're stuck here in Hawaii another 3 years. I already asked A if it was too late to ask for orders somewhere else. It is. True confession: I don't want to stay here another 3 years! Oh, I know, it will be fine. There is plenty of fun and adventure to be had here. But still... the idea of Colorado, the possibility of it, is stuck firmly in my mind.

I've said it before but now seems a fitting time to remind you all that I have a restless heart. I can't help but wonder if, once I get that next dream, I won't fixate on something else. Probably. Hopefully it can involve something other than moving somewhere new? I mean, I was totally itching to move away from DC; even thought I would love Hawaii (although I knew I was probably not going to particularly like my job). I loved my job in DC, but the vibe of that city just didn't resonate with me. But now that I am here... well... what can I say? Will I ever be satisfied?

When I was younger I wanted to be a writer, but I've never been very good at the creative sort. Like making up a story with characters. Or even writing creatively about my past. I'm good at prompted writing, the sort I do (or used to anyway, before I began this cognitively-dead job) for work. For a while I thought if I lived enough, you know, like really got deep into life, that it would give me fodder for a novel. Turns out no amount of cavorting, travel, drugs, sex, love, music, or drinking will ignite a creative spark, no matter how excessive, illegal, potentially dangerous or ill-advised. I sometimes wonder if I will be able to write through the lenses of time and wisdom - in other words, later on in life. It's definitely not something I feel capable of in my near future.

Why is it beginning to seem like I'm having a 1/3-life crisis??? The last time I had a life-crisis, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend and went back to graduate school. All with very little thought of where I was headed other than I like and have experience with foreign countries so something in international relations seems like a good fit. I'm not about to break up with A and school seems like a good idea, but for what? Maybe I just need a convertible and some strippers?

So. About that dilemma. Today at work, I discovered They want me to go to this VTC that is happening at 3:00 am here on Wednesday.

[Digression: This is another thing I didn't anticipate about this job: any VTC's with the East coast of the U.S. often end up occuring between 3 and 5 am because that is normal-time in DC. I also didn't realize how much travel they would want me to be doing, or the fact that ANY travel would require a whole day on a plane and at least one night of missed sleep. Plus two weeks of jetlag. I mean, you'd think this would have occured to me because duh, Hawaii is in the frickin middle of nowhere.]

Back to the VTC. I said, no way, I am not coming here at 3 in the morning. I told my immediate supervisor that if they really wanted me here, they were going to have to give me nighttime differential pay. I said, you guys forget I am not in the military. I don't think he liked that much. And I get little sympathy for being a civilian from the next-higher-up boss either because she was in the military for 20 years and likes to be a bitch about it and say, suck it up because I had to for 20 years. Whatever. Anyway, this went back and forth a bit, and I stuck to my guns. If you're going to have me come in here at 2:30 in the morning, you're going to have to compensate me with nighttime differential pay. In the end, it looks like another guy in our shop (who is a contractor and probably gets nighttime pay anyway) is going to go to the meeting. I have gotten up at 3:30 more than once already to come in here for a 5 am VTC. Not to mention all the weekends and sleep I have wasted so far traveling for these people.

So I am curious: what do you all think about this? Did I do the right thing standing up for myself and demanding what is technically rightfully mine if I work "after hours"? Or was it pansy - not sucking it up and taking the bullet? You know, for the team. Or whatever.

ETA: now that I'm reading this again, it's really irritating me that they just EXPECT me to come happily in the middle of the night without paying me the differential they technically OWE me under my contract. The fuck, government lackeys? I realize we're broke since we just propped up dozens of failing companies and we're about to flush billions more down the entitlement-loo with Obamacare, but your lack of any sense of capitalist principles is really starting to grate my nerves.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Because none of these things deserves its own blog post...

- We got an air conditioner for the living room! It was pretty much the first thing we did when we got back from the air conditioned shangri-la they call Kansas. Because we have high ceilings, the air temp only gets down to about 70 if the sun is shining right on us in the late afternoon, but it feels MUCH cooler because of the dehymidifying effect. And in the evenings after the sun is gone it gets downright chilly. Huzzah! Now we just need to figure out the bedroom situation. We have an air conditioner in there but it is too loud to run all night and even if I run it for a few hours before bed (which I do) it's still hot and sweaty by about 2 am.

- I'm officially a Seiler now. It feels dirty and wrong. I keep trying to log on to my computers with my maiden name and getting all confused when I get an error message. People keep emailing me like, who are you?! Har har. AND! Someone has already gotten my name wrong. It's SEILER, not SELLER. Are you blind?! BTW, I found out in Kansas that Seiler means rope-maker in old German. Our ancestors were rope makers. I think that is kind of cool.

- I hate my joooooooooob. I don't think I have mentioned that here recently. Hate. I thought things would get better when A came home, but they really haven't. Home is better but work is still hateful. It's getting to the point where I am considering just up and quitting. You know. I quitz. It's still the idea of all the money I am making, but even that is starting to matter less and less. They want me to travel too much. Ok, I realize too much is a relative, but it's too much for ME. I can't be going TDY every six weeks. And they don't have enough for me to do. I feel like my time, talent and treasure is being wasted! I am also afraid I would be super bored if I just quit and stayed home all day. Or found some other job... and then ended up hating that even more and totally regretting quitting THIS job. Le sigh. What would you do?

- A and I watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night. It was way better than I remember it being the first time I saw it. I think it's my favorite HP movie. I forgot how cool and interesting the subtext is in that movie: the government is oppressive, and they form a secret underground society, Harry battles with his inner darkness... fascinating. I really need to get the books; I haven't read them yet!

- What I am reading is the Sookie Stackhouse series. And of course watching, totally addicted, to True Blood. The series is different from the books too so of course I have to watch to find out what is going to happen, even though I kind of know from reading the books. So good. Eric! Le sigh. Sunday is now my favorite night of the week.

What's going on in your world?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Report your fellow Comrades for Re-Education

The Obama Administration is asking people to report on "fishy" conversations about health care they encounter:

"Opponents of health insurance reform may find the truth a little inconvenient, but as our second president famously said, "facts are stubborn things."Scary chain emails and videos are starting to percolate on the internet, breathlessly claiming, for example, to "uncover" the truth about the President's health insurance reform positions....There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care.

These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can't keep track of all of them here at the White House, we're asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to"

I sent them an email just now:

Dear Comrade Big Brother,

It is fishy not only that Obama is trying to impose socialist health care on the citizens of this country, but also that you are engaged in an apparent witch-hunt to squash any opposing viewpoints. Yes, very fishy indeed. If your ideas are worthy they will stand on their own merit despite the loudest opponents.

Anyone else want to email the Truth Czar? I think it would be great if they got flooded by useless emails.

Atlas Still Shrugs. The pursuit of [one's] own rational self-interest and of [one's] own happiness is the highest moral purpose of [one's] life. -Rand

Who is John Galt?

If that doesn’t ring a bell—or even if it slightly jogs your memory—I have a summer reading recommendation for you during this lazy month of August.

I’m in the midst of re-reading Atlas Shrugged, the legendary novel first published in 1957 by Ayn Rand. It reads as if it were written this month—and that’s only the first shocking thing that will strike you if you’re brave enough to attempt this 1,100-page work of art.

I remembered its influence it had on me when I read it as a teenager, and it strikes with new force as I read it today in the context of Obamacare, wage and car “czars,” and multibillion-dollar “cash for clunkers” payouts, and amid headlines decrying profits, bonuses, speculation, and well, financial success.

If the comparisons don’t strike you within the first 100 pages, you can stop reading. But if every page leaves you wondering how this novel could have been written 50 years ago, when it so perfectly depicts our own times, then I won’t have to exhort you to finish.

I’m about one-third of the way through, and as I reread through more mature eyes and in today’s context, I find it even more compelling. I’m sure I will have more to say on this blog in coming weeks.

The book tells the story of Dagny Taggart and Hank Reardon, two unrepentant capitalists who are determined to make an unapologetic profit by using a new kind of steel to build a new railroad line to the West, where the last remaining entrepreneurs are creating an economy built on free market principles.

They are thwarted at every turn by the “establishment”—formerly wealthy businessmen who have co-opted government to save their uncompetitive businesses, while around them the infrastructure crumbles and society focuses on spreading the remaining wealth to the least efficient competitors. And there’s sex, too.

It is not your imagination that the public discourse has taken a turn that should make you uneasy. Strange things are happening in our politics, in our economy, and in the growing belief that the government can solve all our problems—either by taxing away our money or printing money.

Today’s Congressional rhetoric echoes the novel, where the “Equality of Opportunity Bill” was passed to “distribute” opportunity to unsuccessful people by forcing those who had built thriving businesses to sell portions of their companies to losers, financed by the government.
Ayn Rand’s entire philosophy, called “objectivism,” has been the subject of much debate over the years. In her own words: “Man must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.”

Rand believed that laissez-faire capitalism was “the ideal political-economic system.” She called for “a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.” Rand, who died in 1982, must be rolling in her grave at today’s headlines.

At the website of the Ayn Rand Institute,, you can learn more about her philosophy. But don’t prejudge her philosophy before you read the novel. Don’t deny yourself the experience of translating her writings into today’s realities. Read the book first!
By the way, although rereading Atlas Shrugged has become my summer project (after completing work on a new edition of The Savage Number, which will be published this fall), I’m not alone in this quest for fresh air. The Economist reported that the 52-year-old novel ranked #33 among's top-selling books in January, 2009.

Have you read Atlas Shrugged lately? If so, what did you think? What lessons do you think is has for today? Please post a comment and join the conversation.

Written by Terry Savage. Reposted from:

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Zero Turn Radius Lawnmowers

You might be wondering how in the heck I have anything to say about any lawnmower, much less a zero turn radius one. Yes. Well. That makes two of us. I'm still wondering how it is possible to have a thirty minute conversation about zero turn radius lawnmowers. But it happened in Kansas. And I still have no idea what a zero turn radius lawnmower even IS!

Wait. Let me back up for a second to tell you that I love Cowstuff. I married a Cowboy. Yes, I know, mostly he dresses like a Fratboy, but deep in his heart he is a Cowboy. And when he wears his Wrangler jeans, my heart just melts. Y'all, he can WEAR those Wranglers. If he puts on a big belt buckle, boots and a pearl-snap shirt, game over, I'm through. Those Wrangler jeans saved our relationship at least once... but that's a different blog post. I also love country music, two-steppin' and Stampede and pickup trucks. But that is just about where my love of farminess stops. Anyone who knows me will understand that I am a Pretty-Pretty-Princess. A delicate flower who belongs in a castle, not down home on the farm scrubbing pearl-snap shirts on a washing board (my cuticles!). Besides that, A and I are both frighteningly allergic to pretty much everything IN Kansas -- or on a farm -- hay, grain dust, grass, horses, cats, dust, smells, and you could also add to the list dilapidated old farm houses, excessive heat, cigarette smoke, and zero turn radius lawnmowers sitting in the front yard.

Which brings me back to how I ended up involved in a thirty minute conversation about the damn things. A's family lives in farm-country outside of Wichita. They even have dirt roads out there still. But I think most everyone has electricity by now; except maybe Nelda. Anyway, his neighbors to the back are Nelda and Greg. I was told before I met Nelda, when you see her riding around on her lawnmower with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, you'll only think of Granny Clampett. Well Nelda came by one night last week and left a wedding present for A and me on the porch. So A's parents were insisting that we stop by there and say hello and thank them properly for the gift. In my mind this is a five minute project. In farm-land, it can take all afternoon.

When we pulled into the gravel driveway at Nelda's place, the first thing we saw was an old grain silo. The yard was neat enough, thanks to the zero turn radius lawnmower, which was sitting right in the front. The old farm house was surrounded by a number of other smaller house-like buildings, one of which I think was an outhouse. We parked in the shade because it was hotter than hell. Greg came out to meet us and invited us to sit on the porch (outside! in the heat!), where there were several old chairs with dirty old bathmats folded on them as cushions and a bunch of plants in coffee cans. I picked out the least-dirty looking chair and perched on it delicately, thinking we would only be there a few minutes. Then Nelda came down with her cigarettes and a can of Budweiser and the armpits of her tank top were all sweaty so I knew right then that it wasn't any cooler inside the house. We commenced to talking while Nelda smoked and I have no idea what we talked about but I know it involved zero turn radius lawnmowers because Nelda must have said "zero turn radius lawnmower" about fifty times. Nelda and Greg both seemed oblivious to the heat, the cigarette smoke, and the chickens pecking around our feet. The whole time, in my head, I was screaming Get. Me. Out. Of. Here. I kept trying to send piercing looks over to A, but he either missed the hint or was ignoring me.

Finally, finally A said we needed to get going and I thought THANK YOU JESUS. But no, it was not over yet. Nelda wanted us to see the inside of the house, where they were doing renovations. When we walked inside I realized the porch was the far better option for visiting. The inside of the 1860 farm house was... how can I put this tactfully?... trashed? The walls were torn up, the furniture was crowded around willynilly, the floors were dirty. There was stuff everywhere. Even ignoring the "renovations" (which I suspected were a very, very long term project) the place looked like a tornado had blown through. There was trash laying around. An old dog. Unmade beds in random places. I said nothing and tried to touch nothing while A made nice comments about how lovely it will be when they finish the place. Nelda kept saying, Whatever you do, DON'T but an old farmhouse! They are a ton of work! And in my head I'm like I really don't think you need to worry about that. Another twenty minutes of chatter and then, at long last, after what seemed like a whole day but was really only like an hour, I was back in the car with the a/c blasting, and the only thing I could think or say was What the......???

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Kansas. And Omaha... and how we almost didn't make it there.

We're in Kansas again. Adam came home a couple weeks ago, right after I got back from a business trip, and then two weeks later I had to turn around and leave again for another trip to Omaha. We decided to take advantage of the free trip back to the mainland to go visit A's family, so here we are in Kansas. We drove up to Omaha on Tuesday for my conference and got into a car accident on the way. It was raining really hard and we hydroplaned. Did a 180 spin on the freeway just about a hundred yards short of an overpass. Slid into the ditch on the side of the road and careened up the other side before coming to rest in the middle of the ditch looking back down the highway from the direction we came. I guess the actual accident wasn't that bad, considering... I mean, we could have hit another car, the overpass, or the ditch could have been more menacing with rocks or a steeper drop off. We were lucky. For me, though, the accident seemed pretty violent. When we slid off the road we hit a mile marker on the passenger (my) side of the car which caused the side airbags to deploy. For some reason there is a small airbag that deploys from the side of the passenger seat and of course it exploded onto the back of my arm while the side curtain airbags deployed onto my face. As soon as that happened, it disoriented me. I thought we were rolling, and with the pain on my side, I thought the car was crumpling in on me. All I could think of was This is It. I was imagining the worst. A told me later what was going thru HIS mind while I was experiencing all this trauma: Shit, we just wrecked my parents' car; Baby's gonna be upset; How the heck are we going to get to Omaha?......... yes, those were his thoughts as we were careening out of control down the highway! After the car came to a stop and I calmed down and stopped my hysterical crying and figured out what happened and that we were ok, A got out in the rain and assessed the damage. Two flat tires and the rear bumper banged up, but otherwise no real damage to the car. Plus the internal damage caused by the airbags deploying. We got a tow to Topeka and got the tires replaced and then continued on our way with only a 5 hour delay.

That was pretty much the scariest thing that's ever happened to me.

Omaha was fine, we had a nice time. We were staying right down in the old Market district, so we could walk around to the shops and restaurants. We were scoping it out for potential future place to live. A would like to live in the midwest since he's from here. I'm pretty much opposed on philosophical grounds, but I opened my mind since I had to go there anyway to scope it out. I think we are still set on trying to go to Colorado after we leave Hawaii. Which is still 3.5 years away anyway!

I think we are off to some local sightseeing in some salt mines so I gotta run!