Fortune cookie say; Man who stand on box of shampoo is head and shoulders about the rest.

Semi Useless stats:  For any given period over the last 4 years, Bloomberg News rates New Mexico last in national ranking on overall economic health.  To the converse, they say New Hampshire is the 2nd best place to live after MN as per their “misery index”.

While I have commented a bit in the past about our apt switch here on base, I wanted to give it some time before I opined further.  The current apt is much better, neighbors are less adversarial, if not slightly friendly.  The few trees in the area make a huge difference and the grass around the unit, which needed come TLC, really did make it greener than at the old place.  When deciding to switch units, we wondered if we were falling into the grass was looking greener on the other side of the road.

Of late, we have had the opportunity to witness excellent gov organization in action in the form of two separate work projects on base.  Both were essentially fencing projects.  The first was a small area being fenced off near the housing district in which we live, the purpose of which still eludes to this day.  The first step in the project included them spraying to kill vegetation, now keep in mind this is the desert and nothing grows here anyway, why spraying was needed is beyond me.  So they were fencing off approximately a 60 yd by 30 yd area with two slightly unequal divided internal sections.  To this day there is nothing inside the fence save a few small piles of chewed up brush.  The fence is all of about 4 feet high and the bottom 2 feet has inserts which again the purpose eludes me but reduces visibility a little.  The installation of this fence is the real point to my whole story.  They brought in a skid-steer with a large power auger to dig the holes for the fence posts.  I took note after only a couple holes were dug that the holes were at least 6 feet deep for a fence post that only sticks out of the ground 4 feet.  The best part though is they did not bother to follow established “dig safe” procedures and managed to find the buried power line for our half of the housing complex.  So we lost power for over 8 hours that day.  This provided us the pleasure to witness the mobilization of gov employed electricians, I will not convey this portion of the story because it tends to raise my blood pressure too much.  Suffice it to say it took them over 4 hours to get someone out there to stand at the hole and stare into it.  But wait it all gets better!  So later that night we got power back after 8-9 hours of melting / thawing food etc.  The next day because the cable repair had messed up the one fence post hole a bit, the mensa members choose a course of action beyond belief.  You got it, they used the power auger in the same hole to clean it out.  Hello McDonalds for internet connection again the next day due to another 8 hour stint of no power.  While this was obviously a large inconvenience for us we bumped into others at McDs from the housing complex whom were actually military personnel.  They said since this was the 2nd day of the month (day after pay day) many of them had just loaded up on groceries and that it was so hot out the food had not survived the first outage let alone the second.  I suggested they send a bill to the fencing company for their lost groceries.

Kara relays a another fencing story she had the opportunity to observer; There is a section of base that I drive by every day that used to be housing back in the 50s.  They’ve cleared all reminents of housing and all that’s left is a few trees, a bunch of side streets, and gravel.  They decided to fence off part of it, again for no reason that we have been able to figure out.  They put all the posts in, this time with no incidents. Hopefully it was a different company that was installing this fencing, or maybe they actually learned from their previous mistakes.  This fence is much higher than the last at about 10 feet high.  So there’s a rather large area with posts all around it and the next step was to roll out the fencing to put on the posts.  Well, instead of starting at one end and going all the way around, they decided to start at each end and meet in the middle.  You can imagine the problem with this scheme.  For several days when I drove by, there was about a two foot section in the middle of the fence that had no fencing – they didn’t measure correctly and when they met up in the middle with the fencing, it didn’t quite reach  They also wanted to put up privacy screening over the fence.  They again decided to start at each end, and guess what?  The next couple days when I drive by, there’s a section again that has no privacy screening because when they met up in the middle, they ran out.    Hellooooo!  I don’t know where they get these contractors, but wow.

In Sept. Kara participated in the NASA grant panel review.  This was an interesting experience for Kara.   Though I mentioned this a bit in the last newsletter let me recap briefly, NASA brings in industry experts to help decide which grant submission should get funded.  Kara was a bit worried before going about “being useful”.  Those concerns were assuaged rather quickly.  She did in fact bring some unique skills to the panel, was able to voice and have her concerns paid attention to.  Overall it was a very successful week, she was able to meet a couple people which could be important contacts for the future.  One such contact, is a director from NASA that is working on starting a new group and showed considerable interest in Kara’s skills.

In Oct., we had our annual gathering of college friends followed by our bi-annual pilgrimage home to NH.  The college friend gathering was well but not fully attended, there are normally 8 couples from college days with 2 couples missing this year.  We then continued traveling onto NH and enjoyed being in our house for over a week (in my case), with our time filled by taking care of fall things in the house and around the yard.  It really was nice to get away from NM and see all the friends in NH and yes contribute to our dentist’s winter ski fund.

Lets move on to the “big story of the day”.  I have a job which I have accepted.  I will be working at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Dahlgren VA.  Much of this opportunity for me is credited to Sterling (Ster), best man at our wedding, a regular college weekend attender and very good friend.  It is an excellent next step in my career.  While for some of you it may bring many questions to mind such as “you will have 2x rents and a mortgage” or  “what are you gonna do with Kara’s job being in NM and David in VA”.  We believe we have that worked out as well.  I plan to leave that discussion for the next newsletter.

During this hiring process with the gov. several oddities did arise.  First, though Ster has a good idea of my skills and was able to convey them to his boss, I was sort of hired site unseen, no interview save a brief discussion over the phone.  Part of the reason, apparently was HR did not know how to get me there for an interview because I was a direct hire.  Enter verbal chuckles here!   In the interest of being cautious, I did continue to apply for jobs with another job at the very same base nearly coming to fruition.  The Radars and Antenna Tech group at NSWC was going to make me an offer as well but the first offer was a bird in the hand at that point.  Since the actual offer for the job came through, I have been immersed in paperwork and trying to find a place to live.  So many beneficial traits will arise from this job, not the least being …. we will make more money and because of a quark in gov rules, I more than Kara.  As one relative says, “That’s good for the male ego!” 🙂  Obviously other off shoots include:  being in the eastern time zone, ala closer to our house and family, easier commutes to the same, different climate both weather wise and societal, the grass will literally be greener in VA.  If we can work things out in VA, for the first time in our nearly 20 years together, having dual incomes while living in the same place!

Upcoming: Employment change, move, holidays for which we likely will not be traveling.

Photo from out past:  The following is a shot of the Grand Tetons taken on the trip for a conference Kara had at the Jackson Lake Lodge north of Jackson Hole WY.

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