Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The wine dinner sounds awesome! Normally I can’t check the blog from work (I have to do it from the MWR computers) but Colleen emailed me her posting which contained the menu and wine list. Needless to say I’m jealous and have been craving good food and wine for quite sometime. Cheeseburgers, nameless casseroles and mystery meats aren’t cutting it, and Gatorade and bug juice don’t have much of a kick. Ah well.
So I figured I’d share my thoughts from the wine dinner I didn’t attend. Colleen and I have had a sparkling wine from the Prosecco region before, and I think we may still have some at home, unless we drank it all before I left. Not sure. Actually I think some went into a pitcher of sangria. Anyway, it was very good. I have not had the Nino Fanco though. The first course, the carpacio and sauvignon blanc, sound like an interesting mix. I’m not sure what came over me the last month in
Now I still encourage Colleen to attend future wine dinners until I get home, even though she said she won’t. I think she should, and buy more wine in the process!
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Pluto getting dumped bull%$@&! How will people adapt now to only 8 planets?! I liked having nine planets. Nine is a more comfortable number than eight. Will the Disney character go away? What happens to the old science books with outdated information about the solar system? I wonder what G.W. thinks about it right now? I have no idea why that idea just popped into my head. I wonder what G.W. is thinking about
Thursday, August 24, 2006
So, last night I went to a wine dinner with another teacher and her husband (Amy and Patrick). Actually, Mike and I met them last year at a wine dinner at this same place and then Amy came in an applied for a job at my school - and the rest, as they say, is history! Anyway, I know Mike was really bummed that he couldn't attend this dinner and I've promised not to go to another one until he returns, but the menu was great and I thought I'd share, for lack of anything better to write about! And no, Mike, I did not leave with any bottles of wine, but they have TONS of new stuff and you're going to go crazy when you come home and see it all! :)
We began with finger foods and a NV Nino Fanco Prosecco di Valdobbiaddene from Italy (like a champagne)...then dinner began.
Carpacio Toscano a thinly sliced filet mignon with arugula and shaved parmigiano reggiano paired with a 2005 Honig Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley
Penne Cornelia a penne pasta with mushrooms, peas and fresh basil in a rose cream sauce paired with a 2004 Cardwell Hill Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Oregon
Insalata di pere mixed baby greens salad with thinly sliced pears, imported cheese and our light house dressing paired with a 1999 Mazza Rosso Toscano from Italy
Rotolo Lombardo a beef roll stuffed with proscuitto, fontina cheese and a tomato caper sauce paired with a 2003 Sinor-La Vallee Syrah from Paso Robles
and then dessert...
Zuppa inglese a pastry cream with fresh fruit paired with Graham's 10 Year Tawny Porto from Portugal.
As I said, this dinner was great! I was not impressed at all with the Mazza Rosso. It tasted a bit too musky and flat, but other than that each of the wines were excellent and paired with great choices in food. Although I really hate peas, the penne cornelia was very tasty and the cream sauce matched the Pinot perfectly! The rotolo lombardo was, by far, the highlight of the meal and, even though I was pretty full by the time that course came out, I ate nearly the entire thing! My goal is to try and replicate this dish and I might have to butter up Francesco (the owner of Bacchus, where the dinners are held) a bit to get his trade secret! I also loved the dessert, mostly because it had great fresh kiwi and strawberries in a very smooth and light custard cream that complimented the port well. Ah, but this dinner was not nearly as good as it could have been if Mike had been sitting by my side and comparing his tasting notes and thoughts with mine! After a few of these dinners and other tastings, Mike and I decided to host our own wine bonanaza (his word, not mine!). We had the best time planning it all out and creating our food (we kept it pretty light at some really great cheeses and meats and also some fruit and chocolate) and wine lists. Our pours were also a tad too big and pretty much everyone got drunk, which was very fun but not really the point! ;) We were going to do another dinner the day after we moved into this new apartment and just before Mike deployed, (yes, it was a crazy idea) but the timing just wasn't right. So, we're both looking forward to his coming home and kicking the planning back into gear! This time, smaller pours!!
Well everyone, hopefully you've had a great work week and have nice plans for the upcoming weekend. I'll be planning for classes that begin on Monday!
Take care everyone!
I love you Mike!
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Thank God for cloud cover. It was only 100 degrees today, and now that I’m on foot that makes a huge difference! I had to turn my wheels in, and my new one is in the shop getting worked on. No big deal, the walking has been good for me. It’s 32 minutes from my front door to my office. And since I do the walk early in the a.m. and later in the evening I don’t feel the full brunt of the 120 degree midday heat. Plus I usually stop for chow on the way home, so I get a break halfway. Speaking of chow, last night I ate noodles and braised beef, just like on the ship. Weird. I’ve been eating a lot of cheeseburgers and sandwhiches because the quality of food on the “main line” isn’t the best. They do make a good macaroni salad. And they have ice cream every night. 8 flavors to choose from! Friday is steak and lobster night, which is decent, but your wallet with enough A-1 will taste decent, ya know? Other than the break in weather not much else is new. Colleen sent two books and I’ve started the first called The Warlord’s Son. So far it’s been pretty good and it’s been easy to read. Nothing complex for me right now – my brain won’t handle it. I think I’ve read four books since leaving in June: Paris (a biography of the city), In Cold Blood, The Crocodile and In the Belly of the Green Bird. Thanks to Colleen for helping me to remember the names of the last two! I recommend all of them, but Green Bird is a pretty unique book in the sense that it’s by an American reporter with a Jewish last name who was imbedded with the Iraqi insurgents. Good stuff! Enjoy!
Other than the break in weather not much else is new. Colleen sent two books and I’ve started the first called The Warlord’s Son. So far it’s been pretty good and it’s been easy to read. Nothing complex for me right now – my brain won’t handle it. I think I’ve read four books since leaving in June: Paris (a biography of the city), In Cold Blood, The Crocodile and In the Belly of the Green Bird. Thanks to Colleen for helping me to remember the names of the last two! I recommend all of them, but Green Bird is a pretty unique book in the sense that it’s by an American reporter with a Jewish last name who was imbedded with the Iraqi insurgents. Good stuff! Enjoy!
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Being back to work I realize just how quickly the weeks go by - tomorrow is mid-week already! Classes officially begin on Monday, but this week has been full of all the planning and getting ready. If it's not as tiring as when classes are in, it runs a close second! Overall, things are going well though and I am looking forward to a couple really cool opportunities for this semester - especially a couple of trips that, once I know more, I'll be sure to post about. I'm also a bit anxious because I should be hearing the results of my exams sometime next week. Keep your fingers crossed for me that I've passed and can move on to the next phase - writing crunch time! I'll keep you posted on that as well!
I just got off the phone with Mike and it was so good to hear his voice! It always is, but I just can't get enough, you know? Our emails have been sporadic at best because he's been pretty busy at work and, again, doesn't have email access at his desk or at "home" yet. We've also had some connectivity trouble where some of our emails haven't been going through. This is tough because we rely on email so much to keep in touch. Hopefully the bugs are worked out and that stops happening. Mike said he's been walking a lot since they gave away his humvee to some other people who, it sounds like, needed it a bit more. He's hopeful he'll get another mode of transportation soon, but until then, he's hoofing it! In our conversation tonight I was reminded, once again, that I can't take anything the news back here says at face value. We don't usually spend a lot of time rehashing news or current events, but every once in awhile, I'll tell him what I've been hearing on the news circuit here, just to get his perspective - even though he really can't actually share much because most of what he knows or sees falls under that blanket of security he's not allowed to discuss! But, tonight I was telling him that the last couple of days they have been making a big deal about Bush's recent comments that we'll be staying in Iraq through his Presidency, that things are terrible in Baghdad and all over and that we are calling up "thousands" of reserve troops "involuntarily". Mike reminded me, however, that pretty much all reserves are 'involuntary' in the respect that they are not on active duty. But, I don't think this is what the news is talking about. In an email, Mike said this:
I can't access the blog from work but I was talking to Steve (my officemate!) about it and he seemed to think they were IRRs, or Inactive Ready Reserves. IRRs are guys who have just gotten out of the service but remain inactive for a period of usually 4 years in case something happens. Everybody that is active duty has to do it. So when I get out I'll have 4 years of waiting around…[in a later email] If you're in the military, active or reserve or IRR or guard, you shouldn't complain when your number gets called. That's my two cents anyway. :)
As to the other parts of current news speculations, I don't know if you've been reading the other blogs on our Navy Bloggers list, but they also help give a little different perspective on things. For example, this evening I heard someone (can't recall who) on the news say that their turning over any security forces or authority to the Iraqi police or Iraqi military forces is impossible and a long way from happening. However, if you read this article and others that have been recently posted on the Desert Periscope blog you'll realize that we really are only hearing the grim details about what's going on in
Well everyone, I'm trying to get back in the habit of going to bed early...which is very tough to do! I hope everyone is doing well and has a great day!
I love you Mike!
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Last night I was invited to see an awesome band, Las Rubias del Norte. One of the percussionists is married to the daughter of one of the Green's family friends (Wendy) and so we joined them for dinner and then attended the show later that night in North Park. The music was invigorating and the two vocalists were amazing. They played a lot of Peruvian songs and a couple Cuban songs, along with several others that were excellent. I have to send out another thank you to Neil and Wendy for allowing me to tag along and for giving me a copy of their CD, Rumba Internationale. I'm actually looking forward to getting their new CD and then sending it to Mike so he can listen in as well! I found myself humming a few of the songs during the day today. One of my favorites from last night was a song called "Baby" which was beautiful, and really made me think of Mike. So, also a thanks to the band for a great concert and great memories!!
Hope everyone had a great weekend and has a smooth start to this coming week!
I love you Mike!
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
After our meeting today I decided to run a few errands. I finally ordered our platform bed (which we've been just procrastinating on) at West Elm and also went into Borders and walked out with several books. One book I picked up on a whim was Fiasco by Thomas Ricks. I realize that this book is probably filled with biased, unsubstantiated opinions that will annoy and anger me, but I couldn't resist. Who knows, maybe it'll end up being all right. If I actually make it through the book, I'll let everyone know. I did just finish reading Longitude by Dava Sobel, a great little book (175 pgs) about the history behind the quest to find longitude at sea. Sometimes it seems to jump around a bit, but overall, it is a good read that I'd recommend.
When I was leaving OB to head out on these errands, I noticed the first weird thing of the day. My wonderful Jetta was on E and so I pulled into the Shell station to fill up and paid $3.25, relatively inexpensive for SD in recent times. But, as I pulled out I remembered that the local OB Gas station up the street (the way I was headed) had gas for $3.09 and I was a little disappointed I had forgotten this before shelling out more money! So, when I got up to the corner of the OB Gas station I noticed that I had been right about the cost of gas, but also noticed it wasn't a local OB gas station anymore, but was now an Exxon station! In OB? For those who don't know, Ocean Beach is pretty much the "local" of local spots...a place that Mike describes (with love) as "where the ghetto meets the sea". Now, OB is great, and it's not "ghetto" in a bad sense, it's just that it's about as laid back as you can find. In fact, when they had a Starbucks come to Newport Ave (our main street), people protested! Everything is local - the local grocery store, local bars, local food, local flower shops...local! I don't know why this actually strikes me as strange or important, but it's just a little less like OB with another BIG name around I guess!
The second weird (but good) thing I noticed today was while I was at our weekly OB market tonight. I went to pick up some fresh flowers and noticed that on all the street light posts in OB there are now cigarette butt containers sponsored by Surfrider Foundation. I think this is a GREAT idea, but I wonder how much use they will get. These containers aren't as ugly as one would think, but I just hope that they actually work to help clean up our streets!
Other weirdness of the day: JonBenet Ramsey's supposed-killer arrested in Thailand, a guy who is a 2nd grade teacher...where do these sick weirdos come from?!?
A flight coming from London diverted to Boston instead of DC because a woman had a panic attack. On TV they showed all the luggage being checked, bag by bag, on the runway. What are they reporting? That she had hand creme on her...a "no-no" according to recent security upgrades.
On my drive from GR to Chicago I heard an NPR story about how Pluto might lose its planet status...and today they've reported that it will likely NOT lose that status and we might have 3 MORE planets added to the list...if this is true, what will my new mnemonic be?
And, in local news...the U.S. Coastguard arrested one of the Arelanno-Felix drug cartel family members while he was returning from Deep Sea Fishing off Baja. This is could be big for TJ security and a big bust for the war against the drug cartels but I wonder...was he really only fishing out there?
OK, that's all I have for tonight. I hope you've all enjoyed reading Mike's recent posts. He said he's got another one he'll be sending soon, so I'll post that when I get it too. Oh, and after reading another Navy blog (Dried Squid), I'd like to post a link to a game I've wasted many hours playing (in grad school, especially during exam time!). It's Penguin baseball, and I have no idea what the record is...I'm terrible at it! I'm sure animal rights activists would HATE this game, but I assure you, no penguins or yetis were harmed in the making or playing of this game!
That's all for now folks. Hope all is well with all of you!
I love you Mike!
Thanks Colleen! ;)
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
So my trip outside the “wire” was rather uneventful, but an eye-opener nonetheless. They told us during our IED training to look for trash and tires and piles of dirt and rocks and things that look out of place, because those are the hiding spots for IEDs. Well, there’s trash and tires and piles of dirt and rocks all over the place! It’s kind of unnerving, but I guess you just go with it and here I am now safe and sound. I give all the credit in the world to the kids who do this day in and day out, in 120 degree heat with 80 pounds of shit on protecting supply convoys for 12 hours at a time in the middle of the night looking for buried IEDs while insurgents, local thugs and others of the sort take shots at them with small arms and rockets. It’s a little ridiculous if you ask me. Anyway, like I said, my trip was uneventful because we went south during the day where not much is going on. The radio relay points are set up sort of like a hunting lodge. They’re very Spartan, with running water in the makeshift kitchen, but not in the outhouses. Laundry is done in a machine but hung up to dry outside. All are equipped with huge grills, and we put them to use. We had chicken wings for lunch and steak, peppers and potatoes for dinner. Better than the Dining Facility back here! After dinner the Iraqi interpreter who works out there brought us flat bread, rice and a sauce that was similar in color and taste to curry but not as thick. We poured the sauce in the rice and then scooped it with the flat bread. Excellent! Afterwards I had to put my 80 pounds of shit back on to return to Tallil and I’m really surprised I fit! So that’s really about it for my trip outside Tallil. Oh, except for the cars going the wrong way on the other side of the highway. Cars are not allowed to pass military convoys, otherwise they meet the wrong end of a .50 caliber round, so what they do is cross into oncoming traffic and speed by in the far left lane (which would be the far right if they were coming at you!) and then cross back ahead of you. It was pretty comical the first time I saw it happen! But like I said I’m back safe and sound so Colleen and mom and dad can stop worrying for a bit. Ah, what’s really funny is that while I was in harm’s way (not really) outside the wire, the base got mortared! Ha!
I love you Colleen!
end of Mike's note, but here's some pictures from him. I realize that they are certainly self-explanatory, but I've added captions anyway:
I have a post from Mike that I'll be putting up in a few minutes. It's far more interesting than this one, and it has pictures! :)
Hope all is well with everyone!
I love you Mike
Thursday, August 10, 2006
I am happy to report that I am officially DONE with my prelim exams, though I won't find out if I passed until the week of the 28th sometime (keep your fingers crossed for me!). With those out of the way, and not having to report back to school until next Wednesday, I'm heading back to Michigan to spend some time with my family. Actually, I'm flying in and out of Chicago and spending a couple nights with my best friend from high school and college, Kim, and her hubby Derek and their little daughter, Mia (oh, and I can't forget Kim's sister Katie who is working the summers in Chicago until she heads back to everyone's favorite college - Notre Dame!!). The rest of the weekend I'll be spending up at my family cottage, on the Muskegon River. It's amazing up there and it's also amazing what my parents have done with the place - especially considering that it was basically a hut when they got it...but a hut w/a great river view! :) Actually, the last time I saw it the entire kitchen and first floor bathroom were gutted and my parents were redoing everything. So, needless to say, it'll be pretty different when I see it this time around! I'll be sure to put up pictures (mostly for you, Mike).
Anyway, the plan was to head to the airport with only an hour to spare (which is pretty typical here in SD), but after the news this morning, I suspect the security lines to be much longer and I'm heading out to the airport shortly...just wanted to post first. I will be able to check email and post if Mike sends me his post, unless it happens to be Saturday afternoon, when I'll be sitting in a tube, floating down the river with a bunch of other crazy people (namely, my brother, sister and brother-in-law!)...hopefully with a beer in my hand!! Sorry, Mike, I'll have two beers, one for me and one for you! :)
Well, I hope that everyone has a wonderful weekend!
I love you Mike!
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
August 9, 2006
Monday, August 07, 2006
At home, we got the fridge today. It's funny because it seems a bit out of place - it's pretty big, but really nice. I had to laugh as I was sitting on the kitchen floor trying to figure out how to put it all together...who knew you had to put a fridge together!?! The only drawback is that you can't hang magnets on the front of it...which really cuts into our clutter collection! They do hang on the side, so I had to go through and put only our favorites up and no more little notes and random stuff up there anymore - this ONE place will be clutter free!
I know, it's totally stupid to put pictures of a refrigerator up on this blog, but how else is Mike going to see it? I mean, I can't very well describe a fridge...it's black and silver and looks like...a fridge. So, you'll have to suffer through these silly pictures for now. So, those are our favorite magnets and a few funny cards and postcards. My favorite cards ever are MikWright. They take old, real photographs and put some of the craziest, funniest captions in them. The most "appropriate" one that we have up right now is the one with the smiling sailor standing next to his bunk and the caption inside reads "If you think I'm gonna spend another six months cooped up with a bunch of half-naked, sweat-drenched, foul-mouthed strangers...you're right!" It's an all-occasion card that probably most people who aren't in the Navy wouldn't find funny...but we did and so we hung it up.
Well folks, that's about all the excitement I have for now. I'm still plugging away at my prelim exam, which ends Thursday, thankfully! I spent most of the morning at the UCSD library reading through books that can't be checked out of the library and that probably nobody has bothered to read in years - lucky me! Anyway, I hope everything is going well for everyone out there and I hope you all enjoy a wonderful week!
I love you Mike!
Friday, August 04, 2006
Mike in Saddam's chair in the palace in Baghdad:
If you click on it the picture should get bigger. I don't know if you can tell or not, but his hair is SO short. When I saw this all I could think of is this adorable picture that is on his parents' kitchen counter at home of him, his brother and sister when they are really young - his hair in that picture is long and blonde and curly. It's so cute! Of course, I still think he still looks cute here, but what a difference, huh? Maybe I'll try and get a copy of that picture and put it up too...Mike probably won't like that! :)
This is another picture of Mike inside the palace. It's a bit dark, but I thought I'd put it up anyway. Even though it's dark, it's a pretty cool shot I thought. I am glad that he'll be getting the digital camera soon (hopefully) and so maybe we'll be more pictures that are a bit more clear and zoomed in! Regardless, I'll take what I can get at this point.
Well, I'm off to work on my exams for a couple more hours tonight. It's slow-going at this point but for this portion of the exam I have until next Thursday, so it allows me to work on it several hours every day. Oh, good news from the apartment front - we are getting a BRAND NEW refrigerator! There are many drawbacks to renting, but I really think this is one of the great benefits. Whenever something goes wrong our awesome landlords (Doug and Steve) are right there to help out! It comes on Monday and I can't wait! I joked with Mike in an email earlier because one of the things he always does is leave empty ice cube trays in the freezer and this new one has an automatic ice maker! We'll never have that problem again - how exciting!!
Well, hopefully everyone has/had a great Friday and enjoys the weekend. Oh, by the way, I've put up a "guestbook" off to the side, so if you get a moment and can sign in so we can see everyone who has visited, that would be great!
I love you Mike!
Thursday, August 03, 2006
I finally got the disposable camera he's had and will take that and will post pictures from it soon. In the meantime, Mike was able to send a couple pictures today that he had on his thumb drive...they are big, so he couldn't send many.
Here's one - isn't it weird to see him in all this gear? And, doesn't he look so handsome? :) I have to admit, when he first sent this I had a hard time looking at it without getting a little choked up. He looks so stoic and even though I've seen him in his Navy uniforms often enough, this somehow seems a little different. Also, it is just WAY different than the t-shirt, shorts and flip-flop Mike we all know so well!
The other picture below is what Mike likes to call his GI Joe "action shot" (that's him in front). These are pictures from his training and not of anything he's currently doing.
The last picture is of the Navy group that he spent the first part of his deployment with in Maryland, South Carolina, Kuwait and then Baghdad. I don't know which FOBs everyone went to, but think a couple of them are currently at the same base as Mike, though not working at the same place.
Have a great evening everyone!
I love you Mike!
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Sorry for the gushing, flowers can do that to a gal, you know?!? :)
I haven't actually spoken to Mike so I do not have an update. I know he's been keeping busy with meetings and inventory. He did tell me that he was still trying to track down the internet guy to see if he can get hooked up - so maybe within the last couple of days he's been able to do that! Other than that, I'm not sure I have anything new to report. I know it's been cooling down here in San Diego, and hopefully will continue to cool around the rest of the coutnry - and maybe soon it'll begin cooling down in Iraq too.
Wishing everyone well!
I love you Mike!
I'll post more later on and with an update from Mike (hopefully) but for now, I'm off for a run down the cliffs and beach to make up for my lack of fresh air from the last 24 hours!
Take care everyone!
I love you Mike!