color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: June 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Job Vacancies. Any Takers???

On my way to looking up something entirely unrelated...

Director - Office of Professional Responsibility

Department: Department Of Homeland Security
Agency: Immigration and Customs Enforcement


JOB SUMMARY: The President has challenged cabinet Secretaries and senior Federal agency heads to create a government that is more citizen centered, results oriented, and market based. To achieve this vision within The Department of Homeland Security, we are searching for high caliber leaders who possess high standards of excellence and enjoy challenges and opportunities.


Among the many things listed under "MAJOR DUTIES" besides the typical serving, managing, planning, directing, coordinating, developing, administrating, evaluating, implementing, exploring, maintaining and conducting, there is the responsibility to "establish and maintain effective working relationships with various high-level individuals, including Members of Congress and their staffs and other legislative and executive agencies. "

Not to mention
As a member of the agency's executive team, you will implement the President's Management Agenda within your specific area of responsibility. [Does anyone know what the President's Management Agenda is???]

Then we get to the qualifications for this position:

QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED: To meet the minimum qualification requirements for this position, you must show in your resume that you possess the five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs), the Technical Qualification, and other qualifications, if applicable, listed below.

And the no. 1 qualification for this position?

ECQ 1 - LEADING CHANGE: This core qualification involves the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals. Inherent to this Executive Core Qualification (ECQ) is the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment.

Pray tell! How exactly does an individual bring about strategic change OUTSIDE their organization??

The other qualifications for this position are:
ECQ 2 - LEADING PEOPLE
ECQ 3 - RESULTS DRIVEN
ECQ 4 - BUSINESS ACUMEN
ECQ 5 - BUILDING COALITIONS

So, any takers??

OH... and then there's THIS SPECIAL OFFICER VACANCY:

DUTY LOCATIONS: 1 vacancy - Office of Protective Operations, Clinton Protective Division, Chappaqua, NY [Wonder who quit??]

And THIS ONE looks vvvveeeerrrryyy interesting as well.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

There Really Is No Place Like Home

Arrived home Wednesday afternoon... a few hours later there was a high-pressure gas line explosion and fire very near our home (contractor setting guard rail posts punctured the line) and then the electrical power was shut off for the next 4 hours while firefighters fought the fire in 90 degree+ temps (Noah was working at a fire station on the other side of town.) In the meantime, traffic was re-routed around the fire through our narrow and winding little mountainside community as we recognized immediately that our entrance gate was on one side of the mishap and our emergency fire road exit on the other, so we (our community residents) graciously called authorities and offered the use of our private roads to the town... threw open the gates while police and public works vehicles escorted many, many hundreds of cars Pied Piper-style first one way through the development and then returned with vehicles going the other way. This continued well into the night and through the next day. Since we had no electric and no gas (and no breeze!), we and the neighbors all brought out lawn chairs and watched the parade go past!! People were very grateful to our community and many waved and many called out their thanks to us -- although many people wondered what we were doing out on the road in our lawn chairs!! Later Wednesday evening the fire was controlled and the electricity was restored although the damaged road remained closed most of Thursday... we are a group of "doers" here and not a bunch of whiners... no one got on television wondering who was going to take care of them, or pay them or GIVE them anything... There was a problem, we had the solution and got it done.


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DH, son Evan (directing traffic in the picture above) with baby Tom in his arms, SSM, Tom, Geri, Jacky & El

All pics except the group pic above were taken by Jacky... the group pic was taken by a road worker in a brief lull in traffic.

Then to top off the day, I stubbed and broke one of my toes in the wee hours of Thursday morning (sigh).


The following images are from our last day on the road through New Mexico and to our home in Arizona.







Arizona is a Free Range state -- no fences required (in most areas) for livestock. This little colt ran in front of our car on a frontage road with his mother casually looking on... but we were watching him and he was not in any danger from our car...



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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oh, Beautiful for Spacious Skies

Oh YEAH! Stunningly beautiful vistas and interesting sights out every window... Colorado to New Mexico today...




Airborne near the AF Academy this morning... can you imagine the view???


if you look closely (or open this larger), you can see the antelope on the left...












PS: Dear Barack: If there is only one President of the United States, perhaps you should start ACTING like it. When someone in the media invites you to trash a sitting US Senator and war Hero who is entitled as is every other American citizen to voice an opinion on your performance, the PRESIDENT of the United States says Sen. McCain is entitled to his opinion and moves on. Your answer today proved just how classless and clueless you are and just how much you have to learn about being a gentleman.

PPS: The driving focus of health care is NOT cutting costs! It is providing quality health care. Twit.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fruited Plains and Purple Mountain Majesty

Friday morning we were sleeping in at our hotel when the sister we were visiting called to say that there was a tornado right where we were... I forgot what living in the Midwest can be like.... so we pop on the TV, see the red blips, hear some sirens and say, "OK... maybe we should get dressed in case we have to head for the basement" (we didn't).


Of course, the record rains are not helping the farmers or their crops...




Yesterday we were off to see the wonderful ArmyWifeToddlerMom and got to finally meet her DH and huggable little ones! The most sparkling and happy people with whom to spend an evening! ADub cooked an absolutely scrumptious dinner. PN and SR were wonderfully behaved and the most engaging "little people"!! A wonderful time was had by all and we hope to see them again very soon!!




Today we drove across the great heartland of America -- where people still make things and grow things and work sun up to sun down and have (for the most part) avoided the consumption excesses that seem to plague so many of those who live in the larger coastal cities... and tonight we are with family in the land of the great Rocky Mountains!







Still snow on some peaks!!



We are just days from returning to the home we love so much... and while the breathtaking beauty of this country is undeniable, and the technology and bounty (such as wind farms, combines, corn fields as far as the eye can see, railroads, automobiles, etc.) are awe-inspiring, it is really the people along our journey that have made this trip so memorable and fun!!!! Hilary & John & Mr. Z, Jas, G, Ash & Av, James, Karen, Sue, Jim, Fran, Sue, Ruth, Shane, Michelle & Katy, Dick, Lin, Bob, Mish & Hata, ADub, Mr. ADub, PN & SR, Karen, Mark, Mary, Dan, Tim & Chris... We miss Tom Terrific, Noah, Ev & Virgil and our own beds... We will not miss the rain (there has been plenty of it -- although fortunately none on any day we have been driving!) nor the humidity and walls of mosquitoes and other bugs that we had forgotten live in the woodsy areas of the US. I swear when we get home, I will not set an alarm or drive longer than a few miles for at least a few weeks. All in all, we are having a BLAST!!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Niagara Falls

Remember you can click on the photos to enlarge them!





video


As we spent time in and around Niagara Falls we were thinking of the Greyhawks and know that they would be just as awestruck by the POWER and majesty of the Falls as they were when they first spied the Grand Canyon (Hi, G & Mrs. G!!) If you have not been to Niagara Falls, we highly recommend a trip there (plan to spend at least one full day -- you will need to spend more time if you want to take in the sights on the American and the Canadian sides (be sure to check out the new documentation requirements to cross into Canada / enter the U.S. -- we highly recommend the new U.S. Passport Card).



Interesting exchanges at the border crossings. On our way into Canada (near Buffalo) we had this exchange with the 30-something female Canadian border inspector (who never got out of her booth).

She: Hello. Where are you from?
Me: Arizona.
She: What is your license plate number?
Me: XXX NNN
She: What state is that?
Me: umm, Arizona.
She: Are you the only ones traveling in your car? (I admit the windows are darkened.)
Me: Yes.
She: Do you have any weapons or ammunition?
Me: No.
She: No guns, ammunition, pepper spray?
Me: Not with us, no.
She: Do you own guns and ammunition?
Me: Well, yes, we do, but not with us. We left them home.
She: You don't have any guns with you?
Me: No. Not with us. (I wanted to tell her that our trip to Canada was specifically the reason we weren't packing and that we actually considered canceling our visit to Canada because of it... but didn't. After all, I don't want foreigners bringing guns into my country either....)


After checking her cameras (which were trained on the back of our car) and checking her computer screen a few times and looking at our Passport Cards for the umpteenth time, she allowed us to pass. The DH and I said, "What was that about??" DH said, maybe she reads your blog?? BBBWWAAAHHAHAHAHA.



On our way out of Canada (into Detroit) earlier today, the U.S. border agent asked our license plate number, where we were coming from, where we lived... then he asked DH whether we had any alcohol or tobacco with us. I assumed he meant duty free in quantity... but DH -- his military career so ingrained -- took the question literally and answered, "Just a half pack in my pants pocket." It took all my willpower sitting in the passenger seat to not burst out laughing! Gratefully, they allowed us to return to the greatest nation on Earth!





Finally, if you are inclined or have plans to go to Niagara Falls and do the Maid of the Mist boat trip -- be prepared to get WET. Those dry cleaner bags they give you will only keep you dry if you are on the lower level of the boat and tucked somewhere in the interior. We, on the other hand, figured how bad could it be? And opted for the rail right up front on the upper deck! Despite our Herculean efforts to keep our hoods clutched and to keep the wind from tearing the plastic away, we were drenched top to bottom (ok, the middle stayed somewhat dry) by about 5 minutes into the ride. So either bring your all-inclusive rain gear or do as we did and throw your head back and laugh!!! Bring dry socks or wear sandals that are "wash & wear"!! Don't wear makeup or clothing that runs or wear watches that can't take copious amounts of water. It is STILL a once in a lifetime experience! Exhilarating!!


That big cloud of mist was the destination of the boat -- up close and personal (also wet & wild!!)






From below/behind the Falls -- fabulous (even for a horrible claustrophobic like me!)


That glow to the left of the "Casino" sign is Niagara Falls back lit at night. Beautiful.

Lastly, we were wondering whether the gentleman on our Maid of the Mist trip wearing the "al Jazeera Sports" t-shirt would be visiting the U.S. and whether he'd wear it through the border checkpoint??

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Oh, Canada!!

Enjoying the hospitality of our neighbors to the north after a wonderful and relaxing weekend with family just outside Boston. Doing the Maid of the Mist and the Behind the Falls things today after a late night in the casino... we were in the company of our brethren from the Land of the Rising Sun... they apparently love the yen exchange rate and they are spending it here in Canada like crazy. This turn to the (north and) west means that we are on the return drive home... So far we have been through NM, TX, OK, AR, VA, MD, NJ, NY, MA, NH, ME, CAN... still to come: MI, IN, IL, NE, CO, back through NM and home.


the Falls from our hotel room



traffic leaving the Boston area (waaay do not miss commuting)


Micah... a 4-mo. old Bouvier... sweetest puppy!!


Massachusetts, New Hamshire & Maine...


brothers



me enjoying a bit of the bubbly and country music & BBQ


wild turkeys around Topsfield, MA


I'm the Big brother




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