Hi All,

Fortune cookie say; Man who throw a cat out car window, makes kitty litter.

I hope all is well with you.  The span of time since the last newsletter is a bit longer than intended, this is not supposed to be an annual event.  One challenge in authoring this email was so many things have been going on since the last newsletter.  I had a LOT of possible subject headlines to choose from.  Below is a few that did not make the cut (some because they could sound distasteful):

– Ornery due to pissing rocks (quote from Sterling)

– Peeing in the Kitchen

– Kara may actually have a screw loose

– Swimming in frog pee

– Cattails in strange places

Updates:  Since you last heard from us, we have started to shop for a place to live here in VA which we would own.  We have been looking both at existing homes in addition to land with the possibility of building a house for the second time.  Kara has changed groups on base and is getting to know the new job.  In general, the jobs are going well.  The house in NH is being worked on/improved.

Electric bill – So one of the stories from the past few months is about our electric bill.  I know, don’t roll your eyes back in your head just yet.  When we moved into the townhouse on base most of the utilities were included in the monthly rent.  The powers to be in the military realized this does not give tenant any incentive to turn the lights off.   So they came up with this plan to figure out an average bill and only have money change hands if the usage was more than  10% from average.  While I had some concerns about how they were to come up with “average” across regions, building sizes, building locations etc there was little I could do about the process.  They started off doing “mock” bills showing what your usage was per month vs the average.  Our bill was WAY over average nearly 60%ish over average.  The local housing office called us to highlight the issue and after some discussion did come do a “survey” to see why we deviated so much.  After their survey, the only suggestion they had was to not leave our cell phones plugged in charging all day long.  I suspect you can already determine how we felt about this response.  The local housing office did have a sympathetic ear for us.  The local manager did agree something was amiss.  We went a couple months of investigating, from turning the heat down (time frame was last winter / spring) to not doing any laundry for a couple weeks.  To us actually being gone for two weeks out of the month and still being WAY over!  After we ruled out our actual usage as the culprit we needed to look further.  While there were many steps in between it boiled down to us going to our breaker box shutting off the main breaker going out and looking at the meter.  The meter was still spinning, at least the one they claimed was ours. Another different meter was not.  The manager, whom had been supportive, came out to witness the repeated test and agreed the issue was we were bing charged for the wrong meter.  There are probably a hundred units that might have had a similar problem, I suspect when built, the meters just got labeled by their orientation on the building and hence all the buildings were likely wrong.  Anyway, now that the correct meter is being read for our unit, our electric bill is reasonable now!

Online order travels – Last Christmas we bought ourselves a DSLR camera.  Throughout the spring Kara has been buying a few accessories, lens cleaner, etc.  One of the items purchased was a camera bag.  Once we found the rare bag we desired we ordered it somewhat expedited since we were leaving for a short trip the following weekend.  We had a tracking number and I was somewhat diligently checking its location.  While the bag did arrive on time, the trip it made to us was more government executing like that private industry.  There are two pdfs attached (hopefully not too large for your inbox).  One shows the “as the crow” flies path from the distributor to us versus it’s actual travel path.  Suffice it to say I wish I got the frequent flier miles our new bag would have earned.

Old broken bone – Some of you may recall the reason Kara has a surgical flavored scar on her forearm.  Broken arm, plates held in with screws, still in her arm.  Well recently her arm had been “aching” much more than usual, enough so she went to the doc to make sure everything was ok.  He said it was not unheard of for the screws to come loose.  Turns out they weren’t loose, likely just allergy type problem.  While glad nothing was wrong I was a bit disappointed, I thought I was going to actually be able to say my wife had a screw loose!

Medical not intended to be the focal point – So last spring I had another go round with a kidney stone.  I try to keep this newsletter somewhat “tasteful” so I will leave out as many details as I can but parts of the story are somewhat entertaining.  This stone was a challenge, previous ones passed on their own.  This one could not.  All went well, eventually, with one of the follow up tests required peeing in a container which had to always be refrigerated with the collection going on for 24 hours.  Ok, well this container in the fridge was notthe worst part of the story from Kara’s perspective.  The instructions clearly said to refrigerate constantly.  So in an effort to be efficient, keep the container cold, I resorted to using the container right there in the kitchen.  May not be my proudest moment but the test went well.  Kara was thrilled.

NH house and pond – This last summer we went to our house in NH.  We usually go in the spring and fall but the kidney stone caused a rescheduling.  The visit was over the week of the 4th, very timely, in that it was over 100 in
VA while very pleasant in NH.  We did our usual visiting, couple doc visits etc.  We also took the opportunity to utilize the swimming pond built a few years back.  It was wonderful to go swimming in the pond almost every day.  One of the things I did while swimming was to clean out the pond a bit, making sure the outlet flows well etc.  The few cattails in the pond were occasionally not so visible and occasionally poked me in un-mentionable  places, or so Kara heard while watching!  The other oddity was the large amount of frogs in the pond which many were un-phased by our intrusion.  The quantity of frogs made one of the two of us comment on what the frogs could be contributing to the water in which we were swimming.  I’ll let you guess who came up with this idea.

While we have been lax keeping in touch with many of you please consider responding, tell us what’s new with you.

The picture attached is from the botanical gardens in Richmond with their holiday lights.  Very neat place tosee at the holidays.  Not the greatest quality picturebut you get the idea.  And for those that recall, please do NOT ask if this was taken with our super duper fancy camera we got last year, it was not.


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