29 April 2008

Listening is Love

Sometimes I accuse my husband of not listening to me...but then I realize I'm kinda tuning him out, too.

I suppose just having someone next to you while you talk about your day can constitute "listening", leaving you feeling satisfied and more able to get past whatever tensions you've built up.

It's what I miss most about him when he's away on duty. ~ jewls

24 April 2008

The Difference Between Guys and Girls

Every now and then, news reports make the rounds stating that women talk more than men - about 20,000 words daily for women, while men use only about 7,000.

I had to wonder if that was true for e-mailing? To get the answer, I simply observed Jenny and Cassie continuing their friendship as if the International Dateline didn't exist.

Click on the comic strip or just go to jennyspouse.com for a larger version.

~ jewls

( Note: the truth is, after a six-year study on this very subject, it was found that women spoke a daily average of 16,215 words in their waking hours; men, 15,669. Not that big of a difference...I think the first statistics are more fun. Here's the study.)

16 April 2008

"Strength at Home" essay by Ben Stein - WSJ, August 21, 2004

[ Note: Corrections have been made to my portion of this post and are listed in the "Comments" section below. I'm leaving the original post 'as-is' for posterity. Please respond with your own personal recollections. I'm not too proud to admit when my memory and research skills are found to be lacking so please let me know the story from your own experiences. Thanks for everything. ~ jewls ]

This is transfered verbatim from the Wall Street Journal's Opinion page.

You remember the Strykers from Ft. Lewis, WA. Their tour in Iraq had already been extended and, while their families were practically gathered on the tarmac, awaiting their return (during the holiday season, no less), they were suddenly extended again for 15+ months.

There was such an uproar across the country that Rumsfeld himself came to the base for a special meeting with the spouses. I posted this "as it happened" on jennyspouse.com/page2.html. I no longer have the original text but I'm sure you can find the reports on Google News.

Meanwhile, Ben Stein reached out to those spouses in this letter, published in the Wall Street Journal on August 21, 2004:

Strength at Home: An appreciation of American soldiers' wives.
by BEN STEIN Saturday, August 21, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

This is a letter I wrote to the newsletter of an Army unit called the Strykers, stationed in Iraq out of Fort Lewis, Wash. The editor asked me what I would say to make the wives feel appreciated while their husbands are in Iraq. This is what I wrote to one soldier's wife.

Dear Karen,

I have a great life. I have a wife I adore, a son who is a lazy teenager but I adore him, too. We live in a house with two dogs and four cats. We live in peace. We can worship as we please. We can say what we want. We can walk the streets in safety. We can vote. We can work wherever we want and buy whatever we want. When we sleep, we sleep in peace. When we wake up, it is to the sounds of birds.

All of this, every bit of it, is thanks to your husband, his brave fellow soldiers, and to the wives who keep the home fires burning while the soldiers are away protecting my family and 140 million other families. They protect Republicans and Democrats, Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists. They protect white, black, yellow, brown and everyone in between. They protect gays and straights, rich and poor.

And none of it could happen without the Army wives, Marine wives, Navy wives, Air Force wives--or husbands--who go to sleep tired and lonely, wake up tired and lonely, and go through the day with a smile on their faces. They feed the kids, put up with the teenagers' surliness, the bills that never stop piling up, the desperate hours when the plumbing breaks and there is no husband to fix it, and the even more desperate hours after the kids have gone to bed, the dishes have been done, the bills have been paid, and the wives realize that they will be sleeping alone--again, for the 300th night in a row.

The wives keep up the fight even when they have to move every couple of years, even when their checks are late, even when they have to make a whole new set of friends every time they move.

And they keep up the fight to keep the family whole even when they feel a lump of dread every time they turn on the news, every time they switch on the computer, every time the phone rings and every time--worst of all--the doorbell rings. Every one of those events--which might mean a baseball score or a weather forecast or a FedEx man to me and my wife--might mean the news that the man they love, the man they have married for better or worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, is now parted from them forever.

These women will never be on the cover of People. They will never be on the tabloid shows on TV about movie stars. But they are the power and the strength that keep America going.

Without them, we are nothing at all. With them, we can do everything.

They are the glue that holds the nation together, stronger than politicians, stronger than talking heads, stronger than al Qaeda.

They deserve all the honor and love a nation can give. They have my prayers, and my wife's, every morning and every night.

Love, and I do mean Love, Ben.

Mr. Stein, a television personality and writer, is co-author with Phil DeMuth of "Can America Survive," forthcoming from Hay House.

(Note from jewls: I know this is old but it was part of a presentation packet I received during my stint as "Member-at-Large" for Kadena's OSC. I'd never seen it before and simply wanted to reprint it here as a reminder that people out there really do know we exist. You know, I've always liked that Ben Stein guy.) :-)

~ jewls

14 April 2008

Take me down to the North Shore...

This is the itenerary of a Shopaholic and TV Junkie who was allowed to run wild in Hawaii: ME!

First stop: the NEX at Pearl Harbor. I know it's "just another Exchange" but I'm told it's the largest in the world. If you know of a larger one, give me the address. I love shopping treks!

(The real reason this was our first stop is because my hayfever attacked me the minute we landed and I thought my head was going to explode. I forced my husband to get me over there for some antihistamine. We also needed swimsuits and towels for our trip to Waikiki beach)

Second stop: Waikiki Beach, of course! The sand, the surf, the sunbathers, the shops. It's all here. The energy you get from all of the above is so incredible...it's a wonder we ever slept.

The next day, we made our way to Othersville. This is strictly for "Lost" junkies. We found it on GoogleEarth but lostmaplocations.blogspot.com will give you more spots to travel to. Most of the sites are located on the North Shore, near the Dillingham Airfield - where you can rent a glider, which is what my DH and his friend did the last time they were TDY to the island.

Northward: We spent the entire day on the North Shore. We went to the Banzai Pipeline beach, where they hold some of the world championship surfing tournaments every Winter. We didn't see any big waves; instead, we got caught in a very chilly rainstorm. The North Shore of Oahu is absolutely beautiful and the drive from Honolulu is filled with stunning scenery. There are too many links for me to include here so just type "North Shore Oahu" into Google and you'll find a goldmine of places to go and things to do. We regret that we didn't get to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center. Next time. Promise.

Speaking of Culture: We really enjoyed the Hawaiian lifestyle, especially on the North Shore. I loved that the local music can be heard 24/7 on the radio....it's so relaxing to listen to. My favorite artists, so far, are the female trio - Na Leo Pilimehana - and their song "North Shore Serenade". Again, there are too many links for this group but I can direct you to a sample of their music: http://music.yahoo.com/track/1246419.

As soon as my bank account recovers from this trip, I'm going to buy one of their CDs. :-)

Let me know how your own visit, or assignment, to Oahu went and what sorts of things you did.


~ jewls

12 April 2008

Oahu and Me

I just finished my first-ever visit to Hawaii and I'm in love! I recommend it to everyone within shouting distance.

Here are some of the highlights from our trip:

Food. My new favorite treat: Pickled Sweet Maui Onions from Buzz's Original Steakhouse in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. The restaurant is fine dining in a rustic, hawaiian surf-shack setting -- we loved it.
The fabulous pickled onions are on the salad bar but they'll jar them up for you. At $5 a jar, I bought two and sent them home via USPS at Hickam AB.

Art. We went to Johnny and Bonnie Moore's Strong Current surfshop in Haleiwa. A long-time fixture here, they sell a lot of touristy stuff along with their custom-built surfboards.

I was in search of local art and bought two prints by North Shore artist, Heather Brown. I'm very, very happy with them and can't wait to get them framed and hung.

Clothing. Since it was our anniversary, my husband and I decided to get each other authentic Hawaiian gifts. I settled on two Tori Richard Aloha Shirts for him, purchased at the original store in Waikiki.

He'd already bought himself his first one at the Pearl Harbor NEX the day before but, after learning what he had, and then finding the Tori Richard store right down the street from our hotel, I dragged him in there and bought him two from me: one silk and one egyptian cotton. They're really beautiful. My favorite is the silk embroideried "The Aviator".

Jewelry. We heard about
Maui Divers Jewelry located in the Ala Moana mall and headed over there to get his gift for me: a little Hawaiian gold slipper pendant with a little diamond in the middle of the toe straps. I love it! He also bought me a diamond-cut gold chain to go with it. It really sparkles.

Good job, honey!
~ jewls

11 April 2008

Cheesy Tourist Thing

You have to do this at least once, right? Angel and me in all our caricature glory!

We're HOME!

We're home! Thank goodness!

In the midst of updating my blogs, I forgot to mention that we are indeed home. Thank you to all of my "Jenny" friends out there who've written to find out if we made it off The Planet of Space-A Travelers safely.

We finally caught a C-12 on Wednesday morning (showtime was 0630 which wasn't too bad because showtime the day before was 0440 -- and that flight ended up getting cancelled. Prob'ly 'cause the crew was still in bed! haha).

Anyway, I've got a bit of jet-lag right now...mostly due to simple lack of sleep from trying to catch airplanes at o'dark-thirty.

I'm going to hit a salad bar somewhere today (one week in Hawaii and my jeans are quite a bit more snug...too much restaurant food) or I might go fresh-vegetable shopping out Gate 2 Street.

I'm suddenly on a health kick. When you travel Space-A, they constantly ask how much you weigh. And then they add it to the weight of your luggage. Depressing!!! haha

~ jewls

10 April 2008

jewls' rules for Space-A Travel

Disclaimer: These are my own tips culled from my own experiences which may not be right for everyone. I can't answer all of the legalities involved in Space-Available travel (also called "Space-A" or "stand-by") right now but I'm planning on doing a show with Wendy and Marie of navywiferadio.com where we'll discuss everything in much further detail and depth.

If you're interested in joining the world of Space-A travelers, please check with your local AMC terminal for complete rules and regulations regarding your personal situation and traveler status. And please keep checking back here for the dates of the show. We'll want you to call in and participate with your questions and concerns. Hopefully, we can get enough interest in the subject that Wendy and Marie will be able to get a qualified representative to come on a future show to address all of your issues.

Let us now continue with

jewls' rules for Space-A Travel...

  1. Don't be a diva. In the Air Force, most of the airplanes available for Space-A travel are C-17s and KC-135s. Yes, these are cargo planes and air-refuelers. If you get one of these airplanes, for the next 8+ hours you'll be sitting in a jumpseat, most likely webbed canvas, straight-backed against the airplane's frame. You'll use the bathroom in a rudimentary version of an airline lavatory but without the amenities even that implies. For instance, the KC-135 we took to Hawaii didn't have a working sink in the lav but the crew was happy to supply alcohol wipes. Usually, one lav serves the crew and all of the passengers (we had about 44 men, women, and children on that flight, excluding the crew).

    No open-toed or high-heeled shoes are allowed in Space-A travel and I would think twice about wearing a dress or shorts. The planes fly very high and it's very, very cold inside. Carry a jacket and a small pillow.

  2. Travel light. Some airplanes have weight limits. Before leaving the house, my husband and I weigh everything, including carry-ons (laptops, cosmetic totes, etc.). Our magic number is 30 pounds total per person. Twice we've gotten the only two seats available on both a C-12 and a C-21 because the weight limit was 30 pounds per person (or 60 pounds total because we were traveling together).

    My husband and I bought backpacks specifically for our Space-A trips: they're lightweight and small enough to fit in the overhead bins but long/tall enough to carry all of our stuff. They have special wet/dry pockets as well as clips inside the compartments for keys, etc. We bring just enough clothes to be tourists in. If you're planning on bringing dressy outfits, the backpack option may not be for you. If you shop when you get to your destination (I certainly do...after all, isn't that the point of the trip???), you can mail your items and extra clothing back home via the USPS at the nearest military base. All that's needed here is a little planning and time management. You might even get to use the internal mailing system known as MPS and send your package back to your home base for free. Ask your USPS clerk.

  3. Be prepared to take lesser accomodations. Our trip last week was to Hawaii. We deliberately made no plans for a hotel because we wanted the freedom to take whatever was available. As soon as we landed at Hickam AFB, we started calling all of the military installations on Oahu, asking what billeting they had available. There were absolutely no rooms anywhere so we called a travel agency that ultimately got us a room at the Waikiki Resort Hotel located barely one block from Waikiki Beach (...and barely one block from Island Soap & Candle Works!). We stayed at WRH for three nights before deciding to branch out and see the other side of the island.

    For the next couple of nights, we stayed on the USMC post, Kaneohe Bay, on the Windward side of the island. One of those nights was spent in the BOQ (Bachelor Officers' Quarters) for $40 a night. The building was WWII era with hand-crank windows and thickly-painted closet doors but it was all part of the charm. (A lot of Hawaii's WWII military buildings are still in use and some of those on the Schofield Barracks Army post still have strafing marks all across the fronts and sides of them from the Japanese attacks.)

    Be aware that many military billeting facilities only have internet available in the lobby or "commons" areas. Don't be shy about showing up in your jammies, with your hair up in a towel...nobody expects you to be beautiful in these places (remember, they're all paying $40 a night, too!). Take your laptop and affect a look of deep concentration and nobody will look at you twice.

  4. Be prepared to take more expensive accomodations. Our last night in Hawaii was the worst for finding a place to stay. It seems Spring Break doesn't occur all at once in the U.S.

    The first week we were there, everything was booked because of Spring Break. The second week we were there, everything was still booked because of the second wave of Spring Breakers.

    So we decided to go to the MWR hotel - The Hale Koa - right on Waikiki Beach and take anything they had...even if it was a closet with a Murphy bed inside. Turns out, they only had one room, oceanside, overlooking the beach, the pool, and the courtyard. Darn the luck! Of course, we took it. It cost us $179 but ended up being worth every penny. At sunset, we sat out on our deck above the palm trees and the ocean and watched a flotilla of sailboats move lazily past. It was quite romantic.

  5. Be prepared to have NO accomodations. We met a young spouse who was traveling back to Okinawa from her Space-A trip to the east coast, stateside. She told us she and her baby had slept in the AMC terminal at Travis AFB because there were no rooms to be had anywhere. She didn't make a fuss about it. She knew the Space-A ropes and just shrugged her shoulders.

  6. The trip home. "Space Available" means just that: Space Available. Period. Military aircraft are not obliged to carry passengers. It's their perogative and our privilege. You may or may not get the flights you want, either coming or going.

    The military flights from Hawaii to Japan, or even to Guam, had dried up during the last few days of our stay. We finally had to buy a commercial ticket on Saturday to get out of Hawaii (we were sad to go but, after a week of tourism, our vacation money was running out). We flew back to Tokyo because there were no commercial flights to Okinawa for another week (fallout from the ATA closure). We checked into the Kanto Lodge at Yokota AB and started working on getting a Space-A flight home which means we packed our stuff and trucked over to the AMC terminal every single day until we got lucky on the third day.

    Old School travelers see it as a game. They laugh when they don't get a ride and then they stake out their position in front of the schedule monitors that hang from the walls of the terminals, telling each other which flight is likely to go and which "TBD" flight will drop to "0" under the PAX column.

  7. Space-A Speak. Some buzz-words to know when you're in the Space-A rotation are: Show-Time for Roll Call or simply Show-Time (this tells you what time they'll call the names of the lucky few chosen to be on today's flight...show up early and get yourself checked in or they won't call your name at all), Seat-Count (how many passengers will be allowed on the flight you want...this number is listed under the column usually called PAX on the schedule and more often than not says "TBD" - To Be Determined), and Weight or Weight Limit (how much weight you will be allowed...a combined total of your checked and carry-on baggage).

    When you're stranded in the terminal after your show-time of 0400 has been delayed, these are the topics that will be discussed over and over by everyone around you. Use your new buzz-words and join in on the conversations. You'll learn so much about how to be a successful Space-A traveler that you'll be "hopping" every chance you get.

My husband is somewhat of a guru on how to find obscure information on every subject imaginable so he gave me the following links to share with you:
  1. spacea.info - everything you wanted to know about Military Space-A Travel
  2. takeahop.com - how to sign up online and more.
  3. pepperd.com - Derk Pepperd's Space-A message board
I hope you've enjoyed this article. Please share it with others and please keep checking back for the date of the upcoming navywiferadio.com show on Space-A travel.

~ jewls

08 April 2008

More Space-A Details

More news from Planet Space-A: we still are not home.

It'll be two weeks tomorrow since we started our vacation. We spent six days total in Hawaii. The rest of the time has been spent getting in or out of Tokyo via either military transport or commercial air.

I'm composing an essay with all of the juicy details which I hope to be posting here in the next few days.

We might be getting on a flight this morning. It's currently 0645 and we're at the AMC terminal, Yokota AB, Japan. "Roll Call" for the next flight has been postponed, pending an adjustment on the "seat count". These terms and others will be explained in my essay.

Have a nice day! ~ jewls

07 April 2008

Backwards...and in High Heels - The Life of a Military Wife

The military wife exists in a world where she is called a dependent. She is expected to do as her husband is told and to never question, complain, or allow a weary sigh to escape her lips. At the same time, she is also expected to be independent of her husband, not need his companionship or partnership for many days, weeks, months at a time, and be able to efficiently navigate the military bureaucracy's maze of paperwork on her own. All of this without bootcamp or formal training of any kind.

Not everyone can successfully carry the weight inherent with the job of military wife but those who do are impressive to behold.

Today I saw one of these women - a young spouse - pushing a luggage cart into the lobby of the Kanto Lodge. Stacked on the cart were two full-sized suitcases and, perfectly perched atop those, an infant's carseat. On the girl's hip, in the crook of her left arm, was the baby - probably all of six months old.

The young mother's curly blond hair was neatly ponytailed and out of the way. She was dressed comfortably in t-shirt, cargo pants, and sturdy Timberlands. A small backpack hung loosely off one shoulder. She smoothly guided the luggage cart and cargo into the hotel's commons area and stopped.

In an effortless series of moves, her right hand came off the cart, shifted the baby to a more stable position on her hip, reached backward to slide into the last strap of the backpack, and once more took control of the cart. All the while, her eyes never once left the flight schedules displayed on the plasma screen mounted near the front desk. She was taking a trip somewhere, traveling "Space-A", baby on hip, and looking absolutely fearless. There was nothing about her that would indicate she might be "dependent" in any way.

As I admired her calm, it occurred to me that she and her baby were perhaps minutes away from climbing into the jumpseat of a C-17, or a KC-135, flying away from Japan, over the Pacific Ocean, to one of the places listed on that screen - Singapore, Hickam, Travis - yet she was as cool as if she were simply traveling from her living room to her kitchen.

I couldn't help but think of Ginger Rogers, of whom it is said did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards...and in high heels.* And I realized how perfectly that old saying describes the military wife.

I didn't say anything to the girl. I left her to finish planning her trip, vacation, or PCS, by herself. She was "dancing" like a pro and the last thing I wanted to do was break her concentration.

~ jewls

* Quote attributed to Bob Thaves' 1982 "Frank & Ernest" comic strip. Link is here: backwards...and in high heels

06 April 2008

Adventures with Space-A

Aloha from the planet of Space-A Travelers! I'm just stopping in to promise an upcoming post about my most recent adventures with Space-A. We're experiencing jet-lag right now, I need to go lay down, but I'll be back in a few hours - all bright and shiny - with all the juicy details from our weeklong trip.

Cheers! ~ jewls