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Picture of me drinking coffee in Haines, Alaska

Brewing

Sumatran

tear water tea :: 17 hours ago

by: Aaron

When I was a child my Mom would read me stories from a series called “Owl at Home.” Owl was a wise old bird who lived in a small house in the country. One day he made some tear water tea by crying into a kettle. I don’t know why, he just did.

This is one of those tear water tea days. I went to work at 8:00 A.M. and no one showed up until 9:00. I was tired and could have easily slept another hour. My supervisor swears he told us when we were all gathered yesterday. I have NO recollection. Either way, it didn’t help. It was “cold” (45ºF) and very windy (Kansas-like wind that cuts through your clothes), and damp from the rain we got last night and this morning. The ground is muddy and sticks to my boots and in order to keep my tent clean I had to take them off on the porch. I think I’ll make some tear water tea.

Then I had to change aircraft from the one I was on yesterday because it needs a bunch of maintenance. So my crew and I had to move all our gear to another bird (I have about 100 pounds of gear) and do another preflight. So that didn’t help either.

But things always get better. After changing over all our equipment to the other bird and knocking out our inspections I ground up some Starbucks House Blend and made a strawberry espresso. I feel better already.

It’s still chilly and kind of muddy out and I still had to switch aircraft this morning. Just like two days ago when I was last on duty. At least it didn’t happen at midnight this time. But it’s all done and the wholesome goodness of that mild coffee is coursing through me.

Thursday, which I guess is Thanksgiving, I’m headed to Qatar for four days. I’m looking forward to putting my civvies (civlian clothes) back on for a few days and chalking up one more country on my list of places I’ve been that I never knew existed before.

Your thoughts? [2]

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Edith :: 1 day ago

by: Brian

We adopted a second cat. Clive, our first cat, is still pretty spunky, and so we thought maybe he would be more melllow with another cat around to humble him a bit. So we adopted Edith. She is a beautiful black cat who recently had some kittens.

Edith, our Cat for 3 days.

But Rusty, our dog, just didn’t get along with Edith. He would just pace back and forth, extremely upset. He whined, barked, and whimpered. We could barely get him to bed down at night, relax or even just stop paying attention to Edith.

Due to several battles and a very, very sad dog, we decided she’d be happier somewhere else. So we took her to the Colorado Humane Society. Even though we didn’t have her but for three days, it was really emotional to let her go.

After all that, we realized something important: It sure is good that you can take a cat back, but things will be different when Anna and I have children. I can just see us a few years from now thinking “Hmm, you know it’s just not working out with this kid. Maybe we take him back.”

Comment [2]

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give me an 8-track :: 10 days ago

by: Aaron

18.98 gigabytes of music. That’s what my iPod contained. That’s a lot of music representing hundreds of years. From Modest Mussorgsky and Leopold Mozart to modern classics like Haddaway’s “What is Love” made popular by the movie “Night at The Roxbury.” There was a bit of everything for every one of my moods. There was hard, working out music, soft, relaxing music, loud, angry music, country music, pop, celtic, latin. But it’s all gone now. A bazillion ones and zeros turned into digital mush.

I would probably be really upset if this was Apple’s fault. But it’s not. I have no one to blame but myself.

After painstakingly updating composer information for several dozen classical tunes I switched my computer to update my iPod automatically. Automatic is good right? It requires no thinking. Well, no thinking is what happened.

“Are you sure you want to enable automatic updating?” The warning window asked. “All existing songs and playlists on the iPod “ippopodimus” will be replaced with songs and playlists from the iTunes music library.”

No worries, I thought, I’ve been working in the iTunes music browser. But I knew full well that all that music was on my iPod, not on my hard drive. I had cleared it from my hard drive to allow room for video editing. But I clicked “OK” anyhow. iTunes then did as I asked: It deleted the 3,500 songs on my iPod and replaced them with the 148 songs from my computer’s hard drive.

Recently one of my buddies leant me some CDs from his collection and now my iTunes music library, and my iPod, reads like a who’s who of the 1980s hair bands has-beens. If they were a hot rock band in the 80s, my computer is now the definitive source: AC/DC, The Best of Cinderella, Def Leppard’s Greatest Hits (not the same album my sister had in high school that my parents threw in the trash and I rescued and returned to her—but that’s a whole nother story), Guns N’ Roses, Kiss, Metallica, and Poison and Queensryche’s greatest hits.

If karma exists this is something I had coming to me. Maybe this is what I get for undermining my parents all those years ago with that Def Leppard tape.

So in the spirit of the internet, where people seem to never think twice about dropping cash, you can make a donation to my new music library through the itunes store. http://www.apple.com/itunes/ Links on the bottom left of the page allow your generosity to know no bounds. (Okay, $10-$200. But that’s practically boundless.) My email address is aaronjorr@mac.com. (You’ll need it for your electronic beneficence.)

Your thoughts? [5]

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"please gouge out my eyes" tv :: 12 days ago

by: Aaron

I’ll admit I’ve watched a few episodes of “Fear Factor” and I appreciate the competition of it all, especially in this day of political correctness gone amuck where it’s “inappropriate” for one person to be exalted above another despite his achievements. At the same time I just can’t handle how pathetic some of these reality show people are. Yes, I give kudos to anyone who will knowingly eat eight inches of horse rectum (hold the mustard, tomatoes and horse, please), but for crying out loud, how many variations of “unlock these two locks with one of these six keys” can they possibly come up with? Who designs these stunts? A prison guard? A janitor?

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s really cool that the people on “Survivor” are out there testing their overly-suburbanized selves against nature, but come on, is there some sort of special screening they go through to ensure they are the whiniest, back stabbing-est group of folks alive?

It seems to me that I am, perhaps, not in the target demographic for reality TV. After all, I’d much rather go climbing, biking, hiking or clean my bathtub grout than watch “Survivor.” I’m guessing these shows are aimed at Generation X females. After all, most people my age have jobs. How can they watch soap operas when most work during the day. The solution is simply to recreate the soap opera. Melodrama wrapped in an “adventure” theme and played on prime time television.

Despite how much I despise these programs there is one thing I do love about them: I don’t have to watch them!

Your thoughts?

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Microsoft's New Search Engine :: 12 days ago

by: Brian

You may or may not have heard, but Microsoft has been developing a search engine that they hope will rival Google. Here it is:

MSN Search

I tried a few searches in it. I have to say – I’m extremely underwhelmed. That’s not to say that my hopes were up much to begin with. Google has set the bar very high. Each time, I found the Google results to be superior in their pertinence and over-all helpfulness.

But hey, that’s just me. People search and use the internet differently. Let me know what you think.

Comment [1]

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Amreeki, no habla haji :: 14 days ago

by: Aaron

Note: Read the full introduction from yesterday’s post. Basically, introducing Aaron Orr, a guest contributor to bw.watchtan.com. Enjoy his unique perspective and humor. Thanks,—Brian.

“Mah sa’lam,” (goodbye) the man in the white dishdasha (deesh-dahsha) said to me as he exited the dirty, white four-door Nissan pickup I drove.

“Shook-rahn,” I replied and immediately thought, “Dang! What I meant to say was … uh … was, ‘fee im allah,’ (go with god), not ‘Thank you.’” But he was already gone and I was pulling away from the dirt shoulder of the road.

It’s strange … language and the mind. I’ll be minding my own business, taking a shower, when suddenly, from some dark recess of my brain will come, “Masaw hanoor,” (the reply to the Arabic for good afternoon). This or some other phrase, that does me as much good right then as a piece of steel wool, will pop out of a dusty corner. Why can’t I remember this when I’m walking through the gate manned by the Iraqi National Guard troops on my way to the chow hall? Sometimes intentionally searching for a word or phrase in another language is like trying to read through a jar of honey.

Yesterday, by mere chance, I ended up playing ball, and then hacky sack, with two ING soldiers. It was like mimes on drugs.
“Where from?” they asked me. “Ana Amreeki,” I said. (I American—it was the best I could do.)

Each of us, personally and culturally, has a totally separate set of gesticulations we use to communicate things. (E.G. In the military, a fist held up in a “power to the people” kind of position means “stop.” Making this sign to an Arab driving a vehicle may very well get you run over because it means nothing to him. Holding your fingers and thumb together like Dr. Evil telling Scotty to, “Zip it!” will make them stop.)

It must have been incredibly frustrating, yet totally hilarious, that day at the Tower of Babel (which was not all that far from here).

Despite how many words my new friends used, accompanied by myriad foreign-to-me gestures, it took five minutes of playing their ball game before I really figured out what the heck I was trying to do.

It goes both ways, though.

I pulled through the gate outside my barracks recently, popped off a, “Salam,” (a generalized hello, literally meaning “peace”) to the troop on duty and, in return, received a thickly accented, “Okay, goodbye,” accompanied by a big grin.

Your thoughts? [1]

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New Contributor to bw.watchtan.com :: 15 days ago

by: Brian

Sometime tomorrow, you will be presented with the first entry by Aaron Orr, our first guest contributor to bw.watchtan.com. Aaron Orr is a crew chief in the 82nd Med, currently deployed to Iraq. Many of our readers already know Aaron and can attest to his unique perspective and humorous look upon life. I hope you will enjoy his entries on this website. For more on Aaron, and some fantastic pictures he’s taken, visit his website here.

Your thoughts? [2]

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Skype Calling to Iraq :: 17 days ago

by: Brian

Skype.com Two days ago, I got to talk to Aaron, a friend of mine who is a crew chief with the 82nd Med in Iraq.

First of all, he has high-speed internet. This is just amazing. Did I mention that he’s deployed in Iraq? My how things change. How did we do it? We used Skype, a program designed to allow people to talk with each other using their computers. Not just instant messaging, but actual voice chat. This technology isn’t new, you can do this with nearly any instant messaging program out there. Apple’s iChat is one of the best ones out there, allowing for excellent high-quality video with your chat.

But I had been wanting to check out Skype. I had heard some great things, and it also allows Windows and Mac folk to talk together. A handy feature indeed, though I haven’t gotten a chance to use it yet.

The other excellent thing about Skype is that it lets you make low-cost phone calls to actual phones. Another feature I have yet to take advantage of, but seems very neat.

For our purposes, though, we used Skype to call computer-to-computer, a free service. Installation of Skype was simple, and soon Aaron and I were talking. What a wonderful, classy thing to talk using your own voice. There was very little lag between us, and we comfortably chatted for an hour or two. The connection dropped a couple times (something to which anybody with a cellphone has grown accustomed).

Having tried it with Aaron in Iraq, and also with Casey in Arkansas, I can vouch that it works great. Try Skype, and let me know how it goes.

Your thoughts?

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First Snow 2004 :: 22 days ago

by: Brian

Last night, we got our first snow of the season. The kids were running around in their costumes with big white flakes falling down around them. It is beautiful. I looked outside my window this morning and it reminded me of Alaska. I’m going to walk to work today.

First Snow 2004

Your thoughts? [4]

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Lunar Eclipse and a New Camera :: 26 days ago

by: Brian

Last night, we went to church. Then we came home and I enjoyed the last half of the final game of the World Series. After the Red Sox won, I jumped outside and saw the lunar eclipse.

Lunar Eclipse : Oct 27 2004 : Shot with a Nikon D70

I just bought a Nikon D70 for my office. This camera is extremely cool. I’m very impressed. The thing I love about it is that I can control just about everything. This shot was at a 5.6 aperture and a 1.0 second exposure. I can use manual focus, manual everything. I won’t get into everything about it, but it’s a very excellent camera.

Your thoughts? [2]

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