Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Near the breaking point

I returned from Iowa to an island filled with strife: the Internet connection was down.

While merely annoying and an inconvenience in most locations, this is a very serious issue here in the land without phones and other "normal" communication methods. Internet chatting, Internet phone calls and the like have become expected here, and are greatly depended on.

On this island of 25 or so residents, rumors spread faster than a wildfire across a drought-stricken plain with 30 mph winds. The rumors and conjecture surrounding this downed connection were pretty entertaining (and continue).

The truth was much more boring and quite a letdown compared to the crazy rumors circulating about this event. The cause was a simple, yet complex equipment failure. Simple because a part needed to be replaced. Complex because the part and the repair guy had to be here at the same time.

It only took about two weeks but now it's back!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Top 10 things I learned on my Iowa trip

  1. My mom has the equivalent of a 10'x 18' hole in her house. This is based on an evaluation by a guy from the home heating assistance program who came with his laptop to evaulate the house with a fan and wind tunnel contraption, an infrared camera and other equipment. (The goal for houses is a 10' x 20' hole so that was good news.)

  2. The Marine Corps has Semper Fi (Always Faithful), the Coast Guard has Semper Paratus (Always Ready) and according to my brother, Sergeant First Class Smith, the Army has Semper Gumby (Always Flexible).

  3. My hometown still holds the annual Easter Egg hunt. It is still going strong with thousands of participants.

  4. If you look in the manual hard enough, you can find out how to disable the seatbelt warning chime and light, child lock features and other safety features. (But you have to be coordinated, buckling and unbuckling the seatbelt at least 3 times in under 10 seconds).

  5. There is a book coming out this fall about my hometown. (See previous entry.)

  6. A primary ingredient in meth production, anhydrous ammonia, is a common chemical farmers plow into the ground at this time of year. (There is also a large meth production industry around my hometown.)

  7. Conversational topics to avoid with my mom include a.m. vs. p.m., her alleged tandem skydiving experience and whatever is written in her daily planner.

  8. The annoying town whistle still blows and will knock you out of bed at 7 a.m. (It also blows at noon, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.)

  9. My brother's garage, complete with free weights, treadmill, elliptical and cable TV, has become the local fitness club.

  10. The Iowa DOT goes overboard on their enforcement of tire tread on any equipment driving down the road.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hollowing out the middle

There's an interesting book about my hometown.

My brother (who's shipping out to Iraq soon) and his wife appear around minute 1:01 of the trailer.

Check it out!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Climate change

I was greeted in Iowa with snow, overcast skies and blizzard warnings. The brief taste of winter weather was nice for a change from the 80 degrees and steaming humidity, but I'm glad it is now back to a balmy 50 degrees and sunshine.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On the road again

We head back to Key West tomorrow for our scheduled 4 days off. On Friday, I head back to the land of semi-reliable internet and phone service: Iowa.

I'm going back to see my mom (who recently had her driver's license revoked by the neurologist who didn't think she should be driving with a brain tumor) and my brother Lee (who is once again being deployed to Iraq).

In the meantime, my loyal and not-so loyal readers can take a look at some photos I was finally able to upload: Robin's birthday (awesome!), fishing (depleting the stock) and the big boondoggle digs going on at the fort: an archeological expedition and a contractor flushing a rag down the toilet and stopping up the entire septic system for a day.

See the photos.

My next blog will be posted from the confines of my hometown's public library, still run by the mean librarian as when I was growing up (if she doesn't hold true to form and kick me out because I'm no longer a hometown patron).