Welcome to Paradise

BACK TO BACK.

After three times as many flights as first thought, I have arrived in Guam. I happened to be trapped on a crew with one of the more aggravating and boorish navigators to babysit in the squadron, so it was over thirty hours of fun (with an overnight stay in Alaska). We sit two feet from each other. And rarely leave the seat. I am a generous god. However, the same aforementioned moron threw my computer bag on the ground too hard out of the aircraft when we were unloading bags and broke the screen. $815 bucks and three weeks later, I have my computer back. & I bought an iPad Mini. Don’t judge.

We had a 7.1 magnitude earthquake off the coast of the island, 25 miles away. I was just chillin’ on the couch watching Louis C.K., relating more than usual, and feeling quite foul… & the house started shaking. I darted over the couch and into an interior closet. Dope. Earlier that day I had been in the control tower by the runway, 15 stories up. Thank god my shift was over just a couple hours prior. Heard it swayed pretty good, pants-shittingly awesome. There was no damage here: one of my tiki torches fell over. No tsunami threat either because Guam is surrounded by a big coral reef that acts as a wave breaker. Sucks for surfing. And if you lose your footing you end up with a sexy as hell black bruise on your butt, like me. Get some.

I got totally fried at the beach last Saturday, then went out to a beach-front bar with a bunch of bubbas. It reminds me of Coconuts in Cocoa Beach. Got shit haused on gin and tonics and was totally the “woo! Girl” at the bar. The live band was really good and had a really cute drummer, so as I left I gave him a big ol kiss on the cheek. The burns here turn into a super great tan. Guam is good, man. Hafa adai. I’ve also flown a few times. But mostly pulling duties up in the control tower.

So, five or so months to go. Overall, I’ve honestly never seen so many people act so ridiculously. From heinously inappropriate, sexist sing along songs (that were supposed to be taken out of Air Force functions), to blatant disregard for someone’s personal things… let’s just say I am NOT okay with waking up at 0500 on a Saturday to clean up my trashed yard because a mob decided to take everything off my porch and set it up in my front yard and party… when I wasn’t even home. (If I didn’t do this, the Commander would have been called and chewed out, and we would have been restricted in some fashion). I guess beer cans stuffed in my window sills & trash littered across the lawn is okay with these people because their wives usually clean up after them like babies. & I’ve never seen so many men who are angry drunks. I can’t grasp the concept of angry drunk. One guy even pisses the bed when he drinks. So instead of cutting out drinking, he actually bought a plastic bed liner. This shit’s eyebrow-raising. I didn’t have to deal with a lot of it on my last deployment with my previous squadron. Just saying. It’s a three-ring circus.

Que Syrah Syrah. Despite my personal pissed off vendetta against a few of the fratboy members, this weekend is Guam’s Wine Fest 2014. The entire squadron is headed out for a good time. I’m happy to report the ladies will be dressing to impress; it seems tough to get BUFF CHICKS to give it the ol’ freshman try. I helped one lady pick out a smart-looking party dress. Hopefully she will wear it, though! Better (underwater) photos coming soon, and stay tuned for SCUBA!

Ready, Steady, Go!

GUAM. In a couple weeks (or less, or more… I can’t put exact dates here) I will be flying a B-52H to Andersen AFB, Guam to begin my second deployment, but my third trip to the beautiful Pacific island. It’ll be a couple months longer than the last, but nothing I can’t handle. My crew is pretty solid, and what I’d like to refer to as the “Chill Crew”. We are all laid back and let things roll, like water off a duck’s feathers. I will be working on my Sniper Pod qualification, so I can drop LGBs using the onboard sensor. Unfortunately, we have the house with the most black mold in it. Toxic, poisonous air. No big deal, right? I had to drop $100 on an air purifier last time, so here we go again. I may even get Civil Engineering to come out and do an air quality test. You don’t want to mess around with black mold. I’m more worried about this than any other aspect of my deployment. Not flying fifteen hours literally across the world. Not leaving home for six months. Not having my hair color stylist on the island with me and being at the mercy of non-English speaking stylists. Nope. I’m concerned about my health and the toxic black mold. Last deployment I was sick from it, but my boss said he would not hear any more about it. But I digress.

In addition to flying and learning the Sniper sensor, I am looking forward to zenning out with many SCUBA trips and snorkeling. I have all my own dive gear, and I hope to build my dive log book so I may think about becoming an instructor if Larry gets sent to a seaside locale for our next move. That would be after I separate from the Air Force in a year or so. I really do need an active job, a desk job may pay the bills, but there’s more to life than paying bills. Priorities, right?

GOTG. Earlier in the week, I went with a friend to see “Guardians of the Galaxy”. What a fun film. I really enjoyed it and, as usual, was laughing the loudest and silliest of anyone in the theater. Standard. Although I am not usually a fan of CG animation, I found the effects in the film to be phenomenal. Plus, the acting was legit and the script was fun. Now, when they were talking about orbs and stones, I couldn’t help but think of my favorite sci-fi villain, Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg. If I was a dude, I’d cosplay the shit out of that. EVERY CONVENTION.Well, I suppose I could as a lady…

Today I went to lunch with fellow B-52 aviatrix Wrecker, who will also be my roommate for the impending deployment. We hit up Carrabba’s for their most excellent lunch specials (1/2 panini and soup anyone?) upon my frantic pointing and suggestion in the truck. Anyway, some amazing person paid for our lunches, anonymously. This hasn’t happened to me before, and I got all embarrassed. I don’t like people making a fuss over me. But I am so thankful for their kindness and thoughtfulness. So hot right now.

MUSIQUE! MUSIQUE! MUSIQUE!. Whilst I was volunteering at the War Veteran’s Home last weekend, one of the gentlemen said, “It’s kind of a.. let down when you leave each week. It’s kind of sad, you know?” and, taken aback, I asked, “Don’t you have a radio or CDs you like to listen to in the mean time?” His response? “No.” I asked why his son hadn’t brought a radio for him, but he didn’t seem to want to talk much about his son. So this week on Amazon, I bought two $20 CD/FM boomboxes, and I am in the process of making a six to eight CD collection of songs to build him a collection. “Two Boomboxes,” you ask? There is also a gentleman who is getting throat surgery, and loves to sing. So I’m giving him the gift of music, even when he can’t make his own anymore. I’m also including a booklet with the lyrics so he can sing along, as he rehabilitates from surgery. At least this might help them not to forget about me while I am deployed.

DADJOKE. Unleashed a real groaner on the flight the other day…

Pilot: I see a minivan taxiing this way. Wait, what am I saying? A minivan doesn’t taxi.
Me: But does a Cab Taxi? Or does a taxi cab?

Awards n’ Schlock

MASTERS OF EVERYTHING. So, Larry received his Masters and I requalified in the Beretta M9. There happened to be photos of both events. I look super tough in my flak jacket without plates and super cool Air Force issued flight suit pajamas. Sweaty. Once again, Larry, Harry Potter lookin’ em eff. I think I would die happy today if someone photoshopped a lightsaber instead of a diploma. But a serious, badass intricate one from the Old Republic that you had to risk your life and prove you weren’t crap. Like venturing into hella dangerous hidden crystal caves on Dantooine and fight Kinraths n’ shit and BUILD yourself your OWN lightsaber that responded to your personal traits and skills, not the crappy gold and purple lightsaber someone just machined at some crap Toydarian junkyard and gave to you. But, I digress.

LADIES! I am so pleased to see such a fantastic array of nominees for this year’s Emmy awards. Larry and I have made a real effort to plug back into high-quality television, via DVDs, Amazon Prime, and Netflix. We don’t subscribe to cable, but we use the internet to keep our monthly entertainment overhead low. Plus, signing contracts in the 2010s is so retro. For reference, here are the nominated shows we are up to speed with:

Boardwalk Empire
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
Orange is the New Black
Saturday Night Live

The first nominees are Outstanding Lead Actress in the Drama category — I have been an avid Downton Abbey fan since its inception, and Michelle Dockery is a master in portraying a hard, difficult woman of high breeding, yet you can connect with her soft heart that’s hidden under all the layers of ice. I really can relate, and I appreciate her ability to do so in a believable way. Additionally, Robin Wright as an equally icy Claire in House of Cards is so beautiful and talented (and her wardrobe is to die for)… and it’s so refreshing to see women in their forties and beyond recognized with relevant dramatic roles on television (well, Netflix). Claire and Francis are the ultimate power couple, and I am a fan of a high-speed, functioning, realistic child-free couple. I don’t mean “We can’t have a child”, but child-free by choice. This is so refreshing.

For Outstanding Actress in the Comedy category — I will have to cater to Taylor Schilling’s amazing performance in Orange Is the New Black. The nomination is for a comedy, but the show skates mostly in the drama category. Taylor’s role is certainly more drama than funny lady, evidenced by the first episode of season 2. Let’s hope those deciding the outcome of awards can recognize her talent to dance along the line of drama and comedy, giving her character depth not seen in the other ladies’ performances. One episode you feel so terrible for her character, the next you are screaming at the television for her character’s blatant idiocy. For supporting, I haven’t seen enough of these shows to make a judgment call, but Red is quite a strong force to be reckoned with, and the viewer is left wanting to know all about this mysterious russkie. I also appreciate half the guest actresses nominations are from Orange, and I really, really appreciate Laverne Cox being the first transgender actress nominated. Did you know she has a twin brother who plays her male counterpart, pre-operation role? Holler! And lastly, Natasha Lyonne’s character makes me want to be best friends with her. I love her hair.

For supporting actresses, Downton Abbey has a competition between the Dowager Countess and Anna Bates (two more strong female characters… awesome!). However, my vote goes to Game of Thrones for Cersei Lannister. Her rollercoaster antics and legendary manipulation seem effortless. Additionally, I feel that Game of Thrones also deserves to scoop up the Guest Actress in a Drama with Lady Olenna’s performance definitely winning out over Kate Mara’s very short-lived portrayal of Zoe Barnes in House of Cards (and the fact that I find that character infuriating, disappointing, and ridiculous on the whole).

WHO, WHAT? The strangest thing to me a couple days ago while catching up with my neighbor. She mentioned I was “outdoorsy”. I can honestly say that’s never been used to describe me. At all. But I supposed living here in Louisiana, it could be true. I bought a new beach cruiser bike and ride every day, and walk my dog every day, too. I do every 5K that I can, and for some weird reason, I’m trying to incorporate more fitness into my life. I hate team sports with a passion, but running, cycling, swimming, yoga, are things that suit me. The “leave me alone” workouts.

EYEROLL. When I am searching for recipes online, I cringe whenever I see “kid-approved eats”. Since when do kids get to decide what they eat and don’t eat? There’s no such thing as “kid-approved eats”. Kids need to eat whatever their parents want to eat. You’re five. You don’t do anything for anybody or pay rent or pay for groceries or further current society in any way, shape, or form. STFU and eat.

Prom & Graduation Take Two.

29. So, I had one of those birthdays last weekend. My friend Amie was in town with her husband from Whiteman Air Force Base. We went to the Margaritaville casino’s seafood and steak place, called “Jimmy’s”. I like it for their scallops, and not just that the decor looks like how my bedroom is set up. Anyway, it was nice to see her and catch up with everyone. She says she is “twenty nine, on my third touch and go”. Clever girl.

MASTADON DEGREE. Today was Larry’s master’s graduation from Norwich University in Vermont. He has spent the last week there, doing a residency course. I was unable to obtain leave but luckily, the graduation was streaming online. Yesterday he was able to see Condoleezza Rice speak. He said she handled the protesters “with class”. I always have to muffle giggles when I attend or watch higher academic graduations. Doctorate garb (excuse me, Doctoral Regalia) is looking like Harry Potter motherfuckers. “Why are you grinning so stupidly?” “Totally Harry Potter. I live for this shit.” Love love love the Italian Renaissance looking berets, too. Hardcore academics.

I will obtain a Doctorate one day just so I can wear the outfit for Halloweens, carrying a wand. Just look at this guy. He just got his diploma from Hogwarts. I feel like when Larry’s not here, I get overwhelmed with stuff to do. He doesn’t do much housework or anything like that, but he keeps me on a schedule of sorts, accountability if you will. Otto has though, ensuring he gets his daily walks.

STELLAR STELAR. A “new” Parov Stelar album is due out in August 19th… I am pretty excited about the track Clap Your Hands. However, I have most of the songs anyway, I wonder why they chose to release it again on one album. Very odd in the age of iTunes and selective song purchasing. Anyway, it’s Electroswing at its finest… & the album is aptly named. Go on now, buy that song. I just got around to listening to Pink Martini’s 2013 release (shame shame on me). Some tracks are fascinating, but I sure took a shining to “Heliotrope Bouquet”, but it’s only a minute long. Damn. It’s another trip around the world with Pink Martini, but it’s no “Hang on Little Tomato.” I want to hear Timothy Nishimoto’s crispy, clear voice singing in Spanish, thanks.

SENIORS PROM. Yesterday I helped out with the local Veteran’s Affairs Retirement Center’s “Senior Prom”. Get it, seniors? I suited up, Betty Draper style and helped out. The airman that was running it said that no one dances, they didn’t last year (because of all the wheel chairs). I took that as a challenge, grabbed another volunteer, and swing danced a little bit. While I was dancing, an older gentleman asked if I wanted to Jitterbug. He stood up on wobbly legs, but was actually a very good dancer once he got going! I was very impressed. After we crowned a prom queen and king, I stuck around to talk with them for a bit, and the queen said she liked jazz music. I brought my piano music with me, and she showed me where the piano was. This place has a really nice Yamaha upright (brand new), and rumored to have a Steinway, too. I played for about an hour and attracted a very exuberant crowd. One lady even asked, “Do you play at Pilgrim Manor?” (the place I volunteer on the weekends). Ha, a groupie! Just kiddin’. I promised to come back Saturday afternoon. & so I will.

“You are a fascinating woman.” I received that very stunning compliment today.

Dallas Comic Con 2014

DEF-CON. Dallas Comiccon 2014 was a blast! Larry and I stayed at our usual stomping grounds, the historic Hotel Adolphus in downtown Dallas Leeloo Multipass. Oddly enough, this particular hotel was also on the recommended list for Con attendees put out by the event organizers. So, upon arrival, valet took our awesome PT cruiser ride, and I got a high-five for carrying Tauriel’s bow up the stairs in the lobby. Plenty of other neckbeards and geeks, one senior-aged one in an honest-to-goodness three wolf moon-like shirt.

When we arrived in Dallas on Friday, only a 2.5 hour drive from home, Larry and I had dinner at a French restaurant in the hotel. The decor had gilded accents and amazing murals painted on the ceiling. It was certainly an experience!

The con itself was crowded, with a lot of cosplayers. This one in particular lacked two categories of the usual fare, though, which I found to be quite surprising. I know Star Wars Episodes VII, VIII, and IX are slated for release eventually, but it’s been years since a new film came out; this explains the obvious lack of interesting Star Wars cosplayers, although I did find a pretty sweet Darth Revan (my favorite Star Wars character, ever). There was a Jedi here or there, but nothing of note. And the other ComicCon staple is Lord of the Rings. Hello, there were no Frodos, Bilbos, Legolas’, or Galadriels. This is odd because of the new Hobbit films out, literally, right now. Usually, convention-goers have their eye on the latest characters in films… Not sure what happened this time. Maybe I’ve been out of it too long since going to cons (I’ve been to two already this year after a six-year hiatus).

This was Larry’s second convention; we attended the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo in March, his first experience with this sort of thing! This time he put together a costume to wear. He was a Teutonic Knight, super historically accurate with real steel chain mail. Yes, he wore chain mail around all day. It weighs a metric shit ton! Lots of con goers wanted his photo because he looked pretty badass. I debuted my Tauriel costume, from the second Hobbit film. What an Elven badass. Anyway, on to the photos!



Sunshine and Elven Archers

DEF-CON. This weekend is Dallas ComicCon 2014. I am finishing up my Tauriel costume; made six arrows from scratch and they turned out pretty awesome for my quiver. I finished the last few stitches on my dress last night, and my leather corset arrives Wednesday (fingers crossed). I hemmed Larry’s Teutonic knight tunic (tunic-tonic knight perhaps?) and took in the sides to make it less fatty boombah. He is going to be dying in the heat on our four-block walk from the Adolphus Hotel to the convention center. I told him chain mail was going to be heavy and hot all day at the con, but a first-time cosplayer always sets their comfort aside for badassery. Seasoned cosplayers like myself know better and learn to combine to two rather quickly. I get to wear a comfy dress all day with leggings. Leggings, people!

SUMMER 2014 STYLE. I cleaned out my closet, set aside a box for donation, and a junk pile — I unearthed some Urban Outfitters tank tops circa 2006. I moved the rest of my sweaters into the spare closet in preparation of my eighteen plus months of summer. Feels good, man. Shreveport’s summer started about two weeks ago, with highs in the mid-eighties. Doing maths, I leave for Guam when it starts to get cool in the early fall timeframe, which is another six months of constant summer. When I return, it’ll be the same time of year as it is now in Louisiana, with another seven or more months of heat. Minot coats and sweaters, be ye banished!

& speaking all about summer, here are a few things to get you going for the season.

  • After searching years for a perfect “beachy” scent, I have come across Bobbi Brown‘s aptly titled Beach, in which she offers a body scrub, lotion, perfume, and body oil. It has hints of sunscreen, sand, and basically it’s summer in a bottle. The only thing missing is sand in your sheets.
  • To complement your base tan, Clairins self-tanning gel smells a lot like chemicals, but it’s non-streaky and lasts about five days. I also found MAC‘s “Mineralize” line of shimmery bronzers extra lovely for face and body. Thank goodness matte skin is out the door, giving way to healthy, radiant, and dare I say, shiny skin.
  • For lips, my sister is a Mary Kay consultant. I told her to send me “orange lipstick”, and she mailed me Mary Kay lipstick in Sunny Citrus. It’s the most amazing orange. If you’re not into lipstick, try Burt’s Bees tinted lip shimmer in Cherry. Both are super reasonably priced. If you need a MK consultant, leave a comment and I’ll get you in touch with the best!
  • Tommy Bahama just released a new swimsuit line today called “Map Floral”. It features nautical maps behind tropical flowers. The top is unique to TB because it’s a new style: it’s an underwire cup with straps like a bra, but it ties in the back to cast off any bra-like characteristics. For gals with more on top, it seems like a welcoming change than the usual (and painful) tie top that puts all the weight on the small area knot behind your neck… or swimsuit tops that look embarrassingly like a bra.
  • Lastly, blue sunglasses & vegan sandals by Tom’s.
  • Florida Party!

    SUNSKI. I am outside right now, under a clear sky and scads of sunshine. Although things have been difficult at work; with the dark cloud of two months of temporary duty in Alabama followed by a six-month deployment thereafter, I am trying to take time to relax and work on this here tan. Eight months away from a spouse with base exercises before you leave (further separating your time together) needs doing peaceful things to help you manage it. Did I mention there’s a bustling bird feeder six feet from where I am sitting?

    Anyway, as mentioned, I will be heading to my old haunt of Montgomery, Alabama in June and July. I spent June, July, and August there in 2008 to receive my commission in the Air Force. It’s where I had my first experience (albeit contrived) with military life, including meeting Larry. It seems like the worst time of the year to go, weather-wise, & I’ve been chosen to go pay a visit during the hot summer months twice. However, a silver lining is on the horizon, as Devin is also assigned to attend this class for these two months, so I will have my best friend in tow, whom I haven’t seen since November of last year. Following my two months of 5k’s, 10k’s, and constant working out, I am shipping out to Guam for six months. Luckily, those 5k’s and 10k’s will exorcise the flab (see that pun there?) and be awesome for beach times overseas. Too bad Larry won’t be around to appreciate it. Lame.

    90 LUFTBALLONS. Last weekend was my Granny’s ninetieth birthday celebration. Nonagenarian. She’s embarking on the wonderful journey of her tenth decade. Tenth, people. She is still as sharp as ever, completing the newspaper crossword each day, in pen. She can do the Cryptoquip (which I’ve never been able to do, which is ironic, given my career field). She works out regularly and attends the Lutheran church on Sundays. So the key to a long life is family and a healthful mind, body, and spirit. And paella. Let’s not forget that.

    For her party, we surprised her with an eighteen-passenger limo bus. We were unable to secure a classy limousine because it was prom weekend (of course), but this party bus had a TV, bumping stereo system, leather seats, party lights, and built-in bar and ice chest. We all BYOB’d and set off to dine at the world-class rated “Christini’s” Italian restaurant in Orlando. I made an awesome playlist for the bus, including electroswing remixes of Louis Armstrong, Lawrence Welk, and of course, more Xavier Cugat than you can shake a maraca at. The restaurant was amazon, and we were all seated at a long table, tended to by a half-dozen extremely handsome Italian waiters. The accordion player came around, and I requested all of my Gramma’s favorite songs, including “The Anniversary Waltz”, “The Third Man Theme”, and “La Dolce Vita” (which stumped the player like it did last year. Fellini, people. Fellini… only the most memorable movie to date about Rome besides “Roman Holiday”). It was amazing to see all of my family together, including all my aunts and uncles. What was not amazing was arriving at the hotel in Daytona Beach at 1130pm, then checking out at 4am to catch a plane home to Louisiana.

    While I was visiting beautiful Cocoa Beach, Florida, I stayed with my Aunt Vonni and Uncle Steve. She has a beautiful resort-style swimming pool and lounge area; somehow coffee by the pool in your ‘jams each morning brings a special sort of zen to your life. She is extremely zen, and we have that in common. My family can be hectic, so it’s nice to have someone “get it” & help you unwind on your vacation. That’s what Florida’s all about. Relaxation and the beach. And Rum Runner’s at Coconuts Bar on the Beach. Can’t forget that, too. I really love the Florida lifestyle and wish I could move back to the beach, or a houseboat on the water. Because I have the military to thank for helping me move out of Florida to begin my life, I have enough personal success to move back of my own decision. My cousin Marjorie, whose husband left her one day out of the blue with no warning months ago, is looking to sell her house in Tallahassee and move to Tampa. I would give anything to be stationed at McDill Air Force Base — to be one hour from Orlando and two from Cocoa Beach! Just gotta convince Larry…

    This & That.

    4DAPUNX. There’s something oddly ironic about walking your dog in Suburbia sporting a Rancid …And Out Come the Wolves t-shirt. Yeah get some. Starting a riot, but not outlandishly enough for the police to be called. Since like, five of them actually live in my neighborhood.

    España. Larry and I went to see the Shreveport Symphony this weekend, with special guest Jason Vieaux; he plays classical guitar.

    The program consisted of the following:

    LUIGI BOCCHERINI:    Symphony in D minor (“La Casa del Diavolo”)
    JOAQUÍN RODRIGO:    Concierto de Aranjuez
    SILVESTRE REVUELTAS:    Suite from Redes
    MANUEL DE FALLA:  Three-Cornered Hat Suite No. 1, Ritual Fire Dance

    He has long hair and looks every bit the tortured musician. And by tortured I mean a semi-famous and extremely talented wearer of scarves. I saw the guy who sold me my piano’s dad at the event; I think he was trying to figure out where he knew me from. A few hours later, Larry realized he had food poisoning from an ill-fated office meal outing at Fuddrucker’s. Does anyone eat at Fuddrucker’s? If you do, why do/would you eat at Fuddrucker’s? Obviously, Larry wanted to lose a few pounds by sitting on the toilet with a trash can in his lap, brought to you by Carl’s Jr Fuddrucker’s. Gets that extra weight loss edge.

    So the Tauriel costume is going along nicely. Too bad the Air Force will probably send me out of town the weekend of Dallas ComicCon. FML. I won’t be able to attend any conventions in the summer because I’ll be out of town on Air Force training, and deploying in the fall, so no cons there.

    Lastly, guess who made the international news. Good ol’ B-52, H model. Even made InfoWars, and you know it’s not news nor conspiracy fodder until Mister Alex Jones gets a hold of it:


    Go BUFFs!

    Las Vegas or Bust!

    VEGAS. Because a person in our squadron got sick, I was given two days notice I’d be attending a war exercise in Las Vegas. Because I don’t want to get my ass kicked by Public Affairs, here is what Red Flag is, from their press release:

    “Red Flag-Nellis is conducted on the Nevada Test and Training Range and involves U.S. and allied forces from all brances of service. Each Red Flag exercise normally involves a variety of interdiction, attack, air superiority, defense suppression, airlift, air refueling and reconnaissance aircraft. Within a typical 12-month period, more than 1,200 aircraft fly 20,000 plus sorties while training more than 26,750 personnel. Since combat is no place to train aircrews, Red Flag provides a peacetime “battlefield” within which our combat air forces can train. Inside this battlefield, aircrews train to fight together, survive together and win together.  Red Flag-Nellis is held four times annually.”

    We were there with many different countries this time, including Denmark, Belgium, Germany, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.

    A little background about Saudi Arabia: “Saudi Arabia imposes a strict interpretation of Islamic law, forbidding women to work or travel without the authorisation of their male guardians. It is also the only country in the world that bans women from driving, and a woman cannot obtain an identification card without the consent of her guardian. ‘Women in Saudi must obtain permission from a male guardian to perform ‘certain surgeries’ and to ‘leave the university campus during study hours.’”[source] You should have seen the shade the Saudi Arabian Air Force was throwing my way when they saw me driving around in our awesome gilded (okay, beige-ish gold colored) government-issued mini-van (which I dubbed “Goldmine”). Or the constipated looks I received when I was doing something as dubious and insolent as walking around the base. Or attending briefings. If Saudi women aren’t allowed to drive cars, does that mean they can’t fly bombers, too (if they had them, of course)? I wonder if their minds get changed just a little bit, like a seed of doubt is planted, when they see how competent, badass, and capable our female aviators are? Like maybe the cake is a lie?

    So, yeah, I went to Las Vegas for two weeks. This was my third participation in a Red Flag exercise, more than anyone else in my squadron. Overall, I found the exercise to be run less efficiently than Red Flag Alaska. Perhaps it’s the leadership, maybe not. I did get some time off to explore Vegas, and I encouraged everyone to step outside their comfort zone and do fun things they usually wouldn’t do; do something other than drink. I did see the Cirque du Soleil show “Zarkana”, which was pretty amazing. When two handsome acrobats were flying over the audience, a guy friend next to me said “Man, wish I could do that.” I simply replied, “Me too.” Heh. Wrecker, a fellow female Radar Navigator, was a pal to go shopping and see the sights with me. We even visited two (!) Bettie Page clothing stores while we were there, and bought fancy cocktail dresses to attend the Zarkana show in style. We even got a fantastic seat at the Hyde Bar at the Bellagio, right in front of the windows overlooking the fountains. I even got a very handsome ensemble from Agent Provocateur for a souvenir, since there was a store there at Caesar’s Palace.

    Today, Larry and I are going to see Bossier Parish Community College’s production of Fiddler on the Roof, everyone’s favorite musical. Besides The Sound of Music, of course.

    Sci-Fi Expo 2014

    SCIFI EXPO. So I finally did it. I convinced Larry to attend a Sci-Fi convention. It took years of baby steps and slow, insidious nerdery, but it is done. We drove out to Dallas for their Expo, but I have to say, it doesn’t hold a candle to MegaCon in Orlando, Florida. Debbie Downer alert.

    The venue was way too small, and was multiple stories, forcing people to corral traffic flow into escalators. Anyway, my chief gripe was that every goddam costume was Doctor Who and I almost lost my shit. Now, granted, I haven’t attended a con since 2008, but dear lord, man… Has every con you’ve seen been overrun with Doctor Whos and related schlock? When did this happen? Where are the Star Wars costumes, the Trekkies, and the Ringers? My lamentations fall on deaf ears. There were a couple nice Judge Dredds. I am in love with the dude on the right’s comic-style frowny Dredd face. Not much swag, but I did pick up two fancy guest hand towels with, “Don’t Panic” emblazoned across the front. Classy. As always, I do have a soft spot in my heart for the dudes that ask for a photo with you. No hover hand needed, man, it’s totally okay!

    In other news, my Tauriel costume is coming along pretty well. Just need to craft some extra arrows and a quiver.

    MUSIC. I’ve been continuing my volunteer service at the elderly folks’ home again. There are a few nice places in the area, and when I say nice, I mean nice. I guess this is a “big city”, so there are numerous choices for assisted and retirement living. Up in Minot, there was one care center really, and that was well-looked after. These places have wood floors, paintings in gilded picture frames, and an activities schedule you have to sign up for over a month in advance. A little uppity, yes, so I just arrive on Saturdays and play for a couple hours. If anyone listens, I’ll stay. One place has a pretty legit baby grand piano that is very enjoyable to play. One little old lady wheeled over and said, “I thought you were a man. I mean, you play the piano like a man. You play jazz and improvise. Most of the time it’s men who do that.” Pwnd.

    HOUSE OF CARDS. I found the character arc for Rachel in House of Cards a tad bit disappointing. Yar, ahead lie spoilers: Anyway, I was over the moon when she made her friend at the Fellowship (damn, not Frodo), but I was disappointed to see it blossom into a sexual relationship. I feel popular shows and movies have a serious lack of strong female friendships. I was so excited, like, “Oh good! They are best friends, like sisters! This is so refreshing. You never see this.” Then two seconds later… “aaaaand, they’re lesbians. Should have seen that coming.” I wish Hollywood would write something, ANYTHING about close platonic lady kinship. You just don’t see it at all. How disappointing.

    & WHAT. I know I haven’t been updating much… Larry was gone for two weeks to Minot, and I didn’t feel comfortable sharing that here. Safety and all that. There’s been some troubles at work, like that expression, “When it rains, it pours.” I feel like the Morton salt girl lately. I’ve almost finished decorating my bedroom from the move, and I’ll post pictures when it’s all done! I wanted it to look like a hotel. Photos next time.

    Lastly, Fable: Anniversary has been fun. I did play the original, and appreciate the Unreal makeover it has received. It just goes to show the pros and cons we have to realize as modern gamers because: 1) You can’t “open world explore” like you can in the more modern RPG titles & 2) You can’t get rid of old items you don’t need anymore, but then again, you don’t have a carry weight limit, either. I might just have to play through Fable II, but Fable III was junk. When will developers realize that if you rush a game release for whatever reason, the world is going to figure it out, and quickly? Anyway, HERO YOUR HEALTH IS LOW…