Sunday, July 23, 2006

For My Dad

I hope you're 100% soon!

Two of my favorite pictures of my Dad, who is in the hospital for a few days. We'll all feel better when they can run all the diagnostics they need to, but he's most likely to be fine in a few weeks.

I love you Jim.

Happy [Belated] Birthday to Me! :)

I turned 36 yesterday, no big deal. Except that for my birthday, my Mom and I quit smoking cigarettes. I'm not gonna bitch, but it sucks! But I'm on a mission to make things happen in my life, so it's time to start walking the walk. And when better to start than your birthday? The gift of better health for both myself and my Mom, I can't not do it. Gotta get my sister in on this too.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

One of My Favorites Too Mom

Oct '03 - I'm entitled to back-date my new blog w/old baby pictures. This is when she was about one month old, she used to make this most adorable little kissy-face as she was waking up. It's one of my Mom's favorite photos - and mine too!!

The "Cost" of Healthy Living

I found a cute funny on the Smile of the Day blog...

Finally, a Worthwhile Project

As you may know, I work in an environment frought w/beaurocracy, so you can imagine it's very ripe for process improvement. I am Lean Six Sigma Green Belt trained, but politics and bs have kept me from being able to work a successful initiative (mostly in the previous HQ organization I supported). But today I was tasked with an honest-to-goodness good idea project! And even better, my successful coordination of events will result in the deliverables I need to turn my training into certification!

Yeah, and then there's the "so what" factor... I'm already planning my escape from the industry, so why do I care about certification? Well, just because. It would go against my nature to give anything but my best. Plus, it might be nice to end my defense run on a high note - one little sphere of order (mine) amid the chaos.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

No More Poor Puppy! :)

It worked, it worked! Benadryl totally cleared up the rash, the oil softened and shined her coat, and I think the allergic reaction just finished off the seasonal shedding. She's looking gorgeous again, thank God. Props to hubby for being all over it.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I Won a Blog of the Day Award!! :)

Blog Of The Day Awards Winner
What a pleasant surprise!
It's nice to know there's folks out there who enjoy my content.
Thanks Much!!

My Poor Puppy

Silly Rottie eats whatever's within reach. And we try, we really do, to keep stuff out of her reach. But she's big, and we have a toddler, they share the same plane @ 0-3ft. She usually ends up munching some toy, but recently she ate a bunch of potpourri, which I suspect my daughter dumped out to play with the container. Now the poor puppy's got an all-over rash from chest to hind-quarters, and she's loosing a lot of hair. We're trying Benadryl on the vets suggestion, but I'm afraid she's going to need to go in Monday, she's not looking as much better as I expected.

We actually have pet insurance, but their reimbursement rate sucks, and we just went $800 out-of-pocket last month, $400 for her overnight spay, and another $400 for the darn kitty's "dietary indescretion." They're worth every penny, I'm just irritated w/myself for not having that much readily available.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Still a most memorable day... 15 Sep 97, almost nine years ago! Despite my obvious frustration w/parts of my job, I still love having been involved. Bureaucracy aside, I have met some of the best people in the world, and together we have designed and built some of the coolest stuff I'll probably ever see in my life.

Icebreakers are HEAVY, very heavy, and the Mississippi River is only so deep, so when we pushed this big beast of a boat down the ways - it splashed greater than anybody had calculated! Thankfully it didn't stick to the muddy bottom, but it did squirt LOTS of water, and some very dangerous waterbourn debris into the crowd. The VIPs got soaked! We peons didn't even realize it hadn't gone perfectly until we saw a little blood on the ground, and a few dazed and confused among the crowd.

Imagine, the old inclined wooden ways are sturdy enough to support the entire structure through years of construction, and yet also designed to literally fall apart at just the right moment during a side launch. A little grease, a little shove, and then when the speed and angle are just right for the ship's weight... the ways simply crumble into the water with the ship. These broken way bits (massive pieces of lumber and huge nuts & bolts) were what got squirted into the crowd with that massive splash. And because so much of HEALY's hull is reinforced w/2" thick steel, it was far heavier than the shipyard's prior launches, creating an unexpectedly forceful expulsion of the water beneath.

Inclined ways were already becoming a thing of the past, in favor of more precise construction and launch techniques. If my memory serves me correctly, HEALY's launch was set to be Avondale's last side launch anyway, and I think the Navy stopped side launches altogether after HEALY's. Side launches are spectacular, and HEALY's was even more so! A stern launch is still pretty cool to watch, but I have passed on a couple floating dry dock launches (who wants to watch a ship-sized bath tub fill, very slowly).

Monday, July 10, 2006

"Supporting" the Navy

Wed 12 Jul 06 Follow-Up
Oh, I was privy to witness a typical union response to information put out at that the organization is adding full time employees. Okay, I think we can all agree that jobs should be open within an organization before they're made available to outsiders - fair enough. But I think we would all also agree that ANY candidate, from within or from outside, should be QUALIFIED! These people actually believe in their hearts that just bringing your butt to work every day is enough to warrant life-long raises and promotions. Seriously, they do.

Original Post
I've spent ~16yrs supporting various defense programs, primarily Navy ship/sub acquisition. I recently transferred from HQ to a shipyard, hoping for a more down-to-earth hands-on experience. I thought the change in pace and culture from DC to Hampton Roads would compliment a friendlier more team-oriented work environment. Many of these folks have been at the shipyard, or the affiliated govt organization that I support, their whole professional lives. It's a small enough town that you play sports and go to church with these people, and run into them at the grocrey store or the mall. Was I wrong to assume I would be welcomed here?

And I was welcomed, by the community at large. I've discovered friendly neighbors, honest merchants, good business referrals, it's all I'd hoped for.

But the shipyard... can you say govt "UNION"? These folks hate that I'm there, just because I'm not employed by Uncle Sam. We contractors are specifically excluded from pertinent govt "all-hands" information, and from office social functions. We are seated apart from our customers - a most inefficient situation. Their "affectionate" term for us is "contractor scum." And to top it off, I sit within earshot of a bunch of govt costs analysts who seem to spend their whole days calling into question the integrity of every contractor invoice they process. If they treated and talked about [some minority] the same way they do "contractors" they'd have a major EEO issue on their hands.

If the general tax-paying population had any comprehension of the full extent of government waste and inefficiency, it would become a Congressional crisis. Why should politics and pork be the primary influences for govt spending. It's appalling. Do you know the federal govt is just now switching to a merit-based pay and promotion system!?! And does it surprise you they had to fight the union on that? All with your tax dollars of course.

This govt/union attitude is one of the primary reasons I have decided to explore a true private sector career. I'm looking forward to working in a for-profit environment, where good ideas don't have to fight against bureaurocracy.

And may every civil servant whoever discriminated against a contractor be interviewed by that contractor for their post-retirement job. Amen.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

New Drive-Thru Starbucks!

I prefer my own home-brewed regular coffee, but I do frequent Starbucks for the occassional fru-fru flavored coffee concoction. For years I've thought how nice it would be to have a drive-thru Starbucks. And when we moved here eight months ago there was no Starbucks in my immediate vicinity nor between home and work.

But now... low and behold... a drive-thru Starbucks just 2½ miles from home, and directly along a reasonable route to/from work - gotta love that! My drink of choice: a Venti Cinnamon Mocha.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Friday v. Monday

Friday v. Monday What a great little video!

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Birthday America
(far from perfect, but I'd still rather be here than anywhere else)

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Look at that hair!

She loves her curls almost as much as we do! And she prefers we not tie them back - which suits me just fine!

Saturday, July 1, 2006

My Rottie's a Sweetheart!

Dogs are what you raise them to be, period. Any breed may have breed traits that must be recognized and managed, be they health or behaviorial. But I knew that our two cats, loving daughter, and my control-freak husband would be the perfect home for Sydney. She is companion and guardian extraordinaire. We are training and socializing her extensively, and I hope to get her into therapy work at the end of her next round of doggy school.

I grew up with the best dog in the world, ever, so I had very high expectations for a family dog. My childhood dog "Jack" was a 110lb black lab - smart, eager-to-please, and full of personality. I never imagined another dog could live up to those expectations, but Sydney sure is trying! My only complaints relate to my own inconsistencies, and occassionally her adolescent insubordination.

Watching a Brand New Submarine Go to Sea

Not a bad way to spend a day at the office I tell ya! One day recently I left my building at the shipyard and walked about five blocks or so to a tiny little city park on the waterfront, I was the only person there. I knew just when to get there, so as soon as I settled down on the old stone wall w/my coffee, sure enough from the right . . . there she is, floating into view, crew members still securing rigging and hatches. They did their thing, took in the view for a few minutes, then disappeared one by one into the hull. And they were going so slow, they were still only just directly in front of me. Silently she floated another several minutes out of sight... no pomp and circumstance, no media, no band, no politicians... just TEXAS and her crew - it was an awesome morning.

USS TEXAS's very first underway was at some unspecified and ridiculous hour of the day. My account and the picture are of a following builder's trial, the unclass pictures were widely distributed in the office.