A Wedding, a Good-Bye, San Francisco and Home Again

May 16, 2010

There were two things that happened in the last month that I had convinced myself would never happen.  Both I’m ultimately happy they did, as I’ll explain later, but both of these dates seemed sure never to arrive.  I was like one of the foolish passengers on the Titanic, I saw the lifeboats being lowered, I felt the water lapping at my feet, yet I just couldn’t imagine the ship actually sinking.  So to what events am I melodramatically referring? 

The first is my best friend since 5th grade, the person who’s stuck with me through some of my less flattering moments (I’m mostly referring to middle school, oh, and high school, oh wait, the year I took off between college and law school, oh, and that nasty break up in college, oh, and…nevermind, I’m totally negating the point of these parentheses) getting married.  Elizabeth found the love of her life and she went and married him.  Here’s the happy couple now:

This was also my first go (and probably only) at being maid-of-honor.  The only thing I really had to do was throw a bachlorette party, throw a shower, not lose the ring, and not fall asleep during the ceremony.  Done and done.  Which is more than can be said for the flower girl.  She was out like a light from the first hymn.  But the wedding was beautiful, my speech was a blubbering mess, and most importantly, my best friend is now happily married to a wonderful guy.  Mission accomplished.  Here are some pictures to show that she did it in style too (and some are just for fun):

The other thing that I thought would never happen bumped a little too closely into the tail end of Elizabeth’s big day.  Kurt deployed.  We’ve known it was coming for a while but somehow, in my mind, I never fully believed it would happen.  But it did.  And let me explain why it’s ultimately a good thing, and I think Kurt will agree with me.  The sooner he leaves, the sooner he comes back.  We knew our lives would go into slow motion as soon as the deployment started but even knowing that, we wanted that dragging time to start because until it did, we would never be moving towards the end.  But now we are and I’ve replaced my bathroom light bulbs with higher wattage light bulbs so that I feel a little more like I’m under the same bright sun he’s in in the desert.  Okay, that’s not true at all.  The light bulbs burned out and all I had was 100 watts to replace what had been 60 watts.  But still, it’s really bright and I kind of feel closer to him. 

So after a heart wrenching good-bye in the Quad Cities International Airport (explain to me again how that’s an international airport), my dad and I road tripped up to Minneapolis together so that I could fly to San Francisco and he could fly home…through Atlanta.  Turns out we weren’t very good at road tripping since we went to Wisconsin accidentally first and then were so late my dad missed his flight and I barely made mine.  I’d explain all that but it won’t save face for either my father or me, so I’m just going to leave you all (and by all I mean my mom, my dad and Kurt who are the only ones who read my blog regularly) hanging. 

I did eventually make it to San Francisco where I partook in the Company Grade Officers (i.e. lieutenants and captains) Annual Professional Development Conference.  My head, and certainly not my heart, weren’t really in it but it was nice to see the city, eat the foot (lots of it) and finally see Alcatraz.  The only other time I was in San Francisco the Alcatraz tour was somehow vetoed but this time the tour was an optional add on to the conference so I jumped all over it.  I insisted on doing every tour available once on the island (much to the dismay of Hotel Hell Hound, Capt Turner, who did not particularly enjoy the tour of the Alcatraz gardens).  It was everything I had hoped it would be.  Of course, since I had been wanting to see Alcatraz so badly, I definitely made sure to bring my camera…oh wait, no no, I forgot it.  In the end all I had was my phone which I think actually did a pretty good job.  See for yourself:

Although Alcatraz was definitely the highlight for me, despite the moccasin tan line and part sunburn that my North Dakota skin is now dealing with, there was another highlight that shouldn’t go unmentioned.  I was fortunate enough, though not at all deserving of any of the credit, to accept on behalf of the Grand Forks AFB Company Grade Officer Council (of which I am the secretary but again, not at all deserving of any credit) the award for Western Region (every AF base west of the Mississippi) CGOC of the year.  And then, I, along with many other Grand Forks attendees, accepted the award for (wait for it, this is going to blow your mind) the Air Force CGOC of the year.  That’s an international award and little itty bitty Grand Forks AFB won it.  Alright, well if you’re not impressed by that then you’ll never be impressed by anything. 

So to sum up, San Francisco nice, more than a little overshadowed by a missing piece of my life that’s currently in Iraq, and here are some of the San Fran sights, just because I think I should:

And now I’m home again and not looking at leaving anytime soon.  With that in mind, this weekend was mostly dedicated to getting my flowers planted.  Now of course this will probably mean that it will snow this week, but oh well, replanting them would just give me something to do next weekend.  I did a little more landscaping in my front lawn this year.  This brings me joy, so bear with me.  Here are the pictures from before I started yesterday:

And after a little elbow grease and an incident with the neighbor kid and an umbrella (that Mary Poppins thing is harder than she makes it look):

I’m hoping that as the summer progresses I can post new pictures where it looks even better.  I’ll add pictures of the back too, as that begins to grow.  I tried planting from seed in the back but I’m skeptical that I’ll have much luck since the squirrels and/or rabbits seem to think that by planting the seeds, I’m just making it more interesting for them to try and find them.  Fun game.  Maybe I can hire the little neighbor boy to stand guard.  He already offered to share a fudgesicle with me next time the ice cream man comes, I bet I could talk him into it.

Thanks for your attention everyone.  Grand Forks and my apartment are more than ready for the summer tourist season, so anyone looking to book an action packed vacation this summer, keep me in mind.  There’s stuff to do here, I’m pretty sure…


North Dakota Warm

February 7, 2010

I know, I know…I’m so delinquent!  But in order to be a good JAG, I’ve had to sacrificed this blog…oh yeah, and I’ve been watching a lot of Charmed.  I’m not proud of it but it’s true and if this blog is about nothing else, it’s truth…

Anyway…As I sit an ponder why it is that everytime I want a team to win the Super Bowl, they don’t, I also decided it was time to update.  So lest anyone think I’m still learning taxes down in Fargo, here’s a quick glimpse of what’s been happening since then.  First, I passed the IRS tax test.  I’m a certified tax preparer…don’t even ask.  Trust me, you’re much better off with Taxslayer.  Second, Christmas came and went, fast.  I was shocked and overjoyed to see my favorite Notre Dame fan on my parents’ porch Christmas morning.  And I think it’s safe to say that Kurt was thrilled to find that this year’s theme coincided well with his personality.  Behold, Wild Wild West Christmas:

 Also, I’ve had a lot of graduations and milestones these last few years (law school, passing the bar, COT, JASOC, etc.) but I think I made my parents the most proud on Christmas Day 2009…. 

 Did it require gunning down my grandma and opa with a nerf gun?  Yes.  Did it take 2 tie breakers with a gifted competitor (aka my cousin, Emily)?  Of course.  Will I treasure my Wild Wild West Competition Winner plaque forever?  Absolutely.  It’s already displayed proudly in my office…at home.  I don’t want to intimidate legal assistance clients.

Third, I completed TDAC (Trial and Defense Advocacy Course) down at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery.  This of course meant being back at Maxwell almost exactly a year from when I first started COT.  It sent a weird chill down my spine but simultaneously I felt reassured knowing I had survived one full year in the Air Force.  19 more to go!  Kurt had a couple friends from law school who were about to start COT so we had them over for dinner (edible thanks to Sally John’s fabulous vodka pasta recipe) the night before TD0.  What I would have given for a couple of COT survivors’ brains to pick the night before I started.  The get on a plane, get on a bus, walk around a corner and get screamed at thing isn’t an ideal way to start your Air Force career.

Alright, so I survived three weeks down in Montgomery, fit in a docketing conference while I was there, and then came home to play some serious catch up.  My office endured a full acquittal during my absence and everyone was beat.  It was a long busy fall and the beginning of the year has taken off with a similar pace.  The tax center is up and running, 2 court martials scheduled for the next 2 months and an annual awards banquet under our belts have kept us more than busy.  Speaking of the annual awards banquet, check us out!

Our own Marie Aubrey was a nominee for Civilian of the Year and don’t be fooled by the picture, she was much happier to be there than it appears.  Also, I got to wear my mess dress again which any milage I can get out of that bad boy makes me feel better about the money I spent on it.  I did have to buy captians shoulder boards at $45 for the pair but I’m hoping I get to use them more than once too.  I also really broke in my mess dress by cleaning off a couple of inches of snow from my car while wearing it.  I would say mess dress goes with pretty much any occassion except snow removal.

And finally, the last update I have is to announce that I have embraced a couple of truly North Dakota winter activities over the last few weeks.  Last weekend I went curling for the first time.  I was told I was both “a natural” and “graceful.”  Hey, stop laughing!  I swear people said that.  We did have a casualty though…a fellow JAG broke his wrist while attempting to walk on ice – it’s hard folks.  This weekend I attended the 97 KYCK Cardboard Sled Races just a few short blocks from my apartment.  I actually knew the winner too!  Here’s the winning monster truck, a sled shaped like an outhouse (why not?) and the aftermath:

So I think that about covers it.  I’m sure I’ve missed something but having covered curling and Wild Wild West Christmas, I just can’t imagine there’s much else left.  I’ll leave you with an image I see every morning and every night.  I’ve grown to accept and even appreciate it.  My apartment’s warm, my cats love me (not enough to refrain from knocking over my plants but enough), and I learned today that I can figure out to do when I blow a fuse (panicking and screaming, “I’m missing the half time show, I’m missing the half time show,” is not it) – right now that’s all I ask for.  Thanks for tuning in.

Hotel Flight = Honor Flight

February 15, 2009

That’s right, although we were all very nervous (except for Turner) Hotel Flight was top flight and the Guardians (my squadron) were top squadron.  Then we did our cheer again and strangely enough, no boos.  Weird…

But let me start from the beginning of the graduation events.  On Thursday night we had what was called a dining out.  There was only room enough for me to bring two guests so my dad and Tom came while Elizabeth and my mom hung out with Henri.  I was really bummed about that because the dining out was really a different experience.  Maybe Tom can find some time to give his impressions in his own blog entry (once he gets done playing CatchPhrase with my dad) but I think it was probably a relatively interesting experience for both Tom and my dad.  First of all, this is one of the few times we wear our mess dress which is our super fancy uniform.  The men look a little like waiters and the women look more than a little old fashioned but here are some pictures anyway…



The Dining Out is also cool because there are a lot of traditions and rules that good along with it.  And if you break a rule, know that they’re not above making you drink out of a toilet.  I was also part of a skit that poked fun at pretty much everything we could think of that had happened over the last few weeks.  People told me it was funny but my most distinct memory is that I was really really sweaty for the remainder of the meal.  I guess keeping the temperature at approximately 90 degrees is part of the fun.

After only some minor drama in the dorms Thursday night, Friday morning we managed to graduate.  First we had our last meal in the DFac (Dining Facility).  That was followed by an awards ceremony where Hotel Flight received all its awards.  I also was shocked to find out that I was a Distinguished Graduate (DG – top 10% of my class).  I really didn’t think I had a shot so when my name was called I found myself to be rather unprepared.  I just kept praying I had my fly up as I shook the OTS Commander’s hand, saluted her, and then stood in front of my 130 classmates and their friends and family.



Two other members of my flight graduated with DG status as well, Lt Hett and Capt Taylor.


After the awards ceremony, Hotel Flight, laden with all their awards, headed out to the parade field with the rest of the class.  The parade is mostly just ceremonial but a really great way for family and friends to see all the marching we’ve been working on over our 5 weeks at COT.  Also, it’s a good way for families (such as mine) that have little to no exposure to the military to see a formal military ceremony.  Many Hotel Flight members had prominent roles in our parade but I was part of the masses which really was for the best.  When it comes to marching, I don’t need to be anywhere near the center of attention.  Again, Tom could weigh in here but I think it was a pretty cool ceremony…



It was really great to have my parents, Elizabeth, and Tom finally see what I had been telling about for so many weeks.  I can’t even say how grateful I feel that I have people willing to come all the way to Alabama to see me march around in a uniform.  And now they can help describe things to all my friends in Chicago who couldn’t come.




So since my graduation, we’ve been on a whirlwind tour of Montgomery.  We’ve seen several Walmarts, the state capital building, Chris’s Hot Dogs, and we made an attempt to see a covered bridge but that was too far away.  I’ve introduced my family to the BX (Base Exchange) and they are all now well equipped with various Air Force t-shirts, sweatshirts, suspenders, you name it.  Today we have to take Elizabeth to the airport (tear) and then tomorrow everyone else leaves me alone in Alabama again.  But I’ll be starting the next phase in my Air Force learning and I’ll be lucky to have a lot of people I know from my COT class in my JASOC class.  The next two months will be a lot less stressful than the previous month was and soon I’ll be heading up to ND making sure to stop in Chicago on my way.  And in the mean time, if anyone’s coming thru Alabama…

Final Week

February 10, 2009

Not only is the end now in sight, it’s pretty much here.  We have just two days left until we graduate.  I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to post this weekend but I’ll give you all the quick update on last week.  Hotel Flight kept their title of Athletic Flight of the Week by absolutely rocking the PFA (Physical Fitness Assessment).  Everyone passed and we had a flight average of 91.56 (out of a 100).  We had three perfect scores and I ran the 1.5 mile in a personal record of 11:08.  We also took our second CWT (Comprehensive Written Test).  I missed 3 out of 50 (which I was really frustrated with myself about).  Our flight average was a 92% and we had two people get perfect scores.  Although we didn’t edge out Juliet for Academic Flight of the Week, we did so well on the PFA that we managed to steal overall Flight of the Week from them.  I won’t lie to all of you out there…my flight is kind of outstanding.  I was talking with a guy from another flight who was ranting (oh, and I mean ranting) about how it’s all about luck and if you get lucky enough to have a bunch of athletes in your flight and smart people in your flight, then obviously going to do well.  And I actually agree with him…partially.  I do feel very very fortunate to be in a flight with so many people who really are exceptionally smart and athletic.  However, we all have our strengths and weaknesses that we have worked on over these last 4 weeks.  The first time we took the physical fitness test we didn’t all pass and the second time around we raised our average by almost 5 points.  That does show some effort outside of natural talent.  The Hotel Hellhounds have worked their butts off not only to maintian their superiorty but also to widen the gap.

But this week the million dollar question will be answered…who will get Top Flight?  Hotel is certainly in the running.  But Juliet Flight has retained the Academic Flight of the Week status since week one and they’re our top competition.  This morning we ran a 5k run that factors into the Top Flight calculation.  Although our best runner broke into hives in the last mile of the race, he still managed to snag 2nd (yes, out of the whole 130 person class) running about a 19:15.  I was disappointed with my 25:05 (it felt like I was running super fast but alas, no) but our flight overall did really well despite the fact that we were running at 5am by moonlight.

There’s one more factor in determining Top Flight…LRC (Leadership Reaction Course).  Now what this is is basically a series of missions we’re asked to complete that usually involve something like getting your team from one side of a vat of boiling lava (aka water) using only a toothpick and a bucket of paint.  Although the idea of falling into water (aka boiling lava) in an attempt to lead your team to highly coveted mission completions may not sound too bad, when the weather turns ugly your resolve may weaken.  Hotel Flight had 5 completions (out of 14).  Each flight member got the opportunity to lead and the team I led did manage to complete out mission.  All it took was crossing a crocodile filled mote, climbing across a wooden plank and then sliding through a metal vent, all the while avoiding triggering alarm sensors (seriously, I did not make a bit of that up).  Luckily I had an awesome team who would have done anything to help complete the mission, including but not limited to standing on a narrow plank 4 feet over a pool of water that looked to contain at least 8 different kinds of bacteria.

So that’s all the criteria (for the most part) for Top Flight.  Stay tuned for an update on who won it.  I’ll try to post next weekend so you guys don’t all just pass out from anticipation.

Speaking of passing out, we have begun practicing for the parade that is part of the graudation ceremonies.  I’m just amongst the masses marching along, trying to stay in step.  The trickiest part for me is not turning or the facing movements, it’s the standing super still even when I’m sure I feel a hair out of place or an ant crawling over my shoe.  But hopefully with the 4 hours a day we’re practicing doing it, I’ll figure out how to quiet my inner OCD voice telling me I need to move just slightly to prevent the world from imploding.

One thing I forgot to mention about last week, we did do a mock deployment where all the nurses and doctors got to set up a deployed hospital and run it for a couple of hours.  All the JAGs got to be patients and security.  I got to be a patient with food poisoning from D Fac 2, a patient with combat stress which caused me to think my name was George Patton and curl into the fetal position and start crying randomly, and finally a patient with a C-spine injury.  That was a really cool experience because I was able to see all of my flight members in their element.  Most of them are nurses, lab techs, etc. and they took such good care of us fake patients, I know they’d be the first ones around if I every really got hurt.

We also camped out and did the ropes course.  We were supposed to camp out two nights but after sleeping in heatless tents the first night when the temperature dipped down to 9 degrees overnight, they granted us a reprieve and let us go back to the dorms for the second night.  Then we bussed back to the ropes course were I spent the better part of the day with my knees literally knocking together.  I can’t understand why either, all I had to do was perform a series of acrobatic feats 30 feet in the air secured only by a frayed rope.  Oh, and when I was done with that I had to climb a rock wall, walk out onto a beam 40 feet into the air with no hands and then repel back down.  No big deal…  Pictures will hopefully be up soon.

I know I’m leaving you all hanging a bit but it’s getting late and tomorrow morning we have our last, yes very last, 5am PT session.  No more 2 minute jog in place to keep me in shape.  Soon Elizabeth, Tom, and my parents will be here and maybe, just maybe, I’ll remember not to call them ma’am and sir.

Week 3…the End is in Sight!

February 1, 2009

Even though I have a ton of studying to do today, I decided to do some blogging before hand just to try to get that assault video pushed down the page.  I have to say though, that gladiator does slightly resemble one of our flight commanders…

This last week has been a blur of homework, presentations, and tests.  We were also supposed to run a 5k  but apparently in Alabama, 30 degrees is to cold to run outside so that was canceled and we went back to what we have been doing since I got here and that’s PT (physical training) inside.  Inside means 130 people (that’s the size of my class) on half of a basketball court (the other half has another training class on it) completing such strenuous tasks as running in place for 2 minutes, rotating our hips, and sometimes even a push-up or two.  I’m fortunate to have a very athletic flight who enjoys doing additional workouts in our free time otherwise I feel confident my PT score would have declined since my arrival.  So if anyone thought I might actually lose weight here, think again – between the greasy food in the chow hall and the mediocre workouts, I’ll be lucky to not have gained weight.

We had the first of our two big tests this week that ultimately determine if we pass or fail.  It was a 30 questions multiple choice on topics ranging from leadership skills to the Air Force’s air and space superiority (because we are the greatest air force in the world – I’m a 100% not kidding).  You can only miss 7 questions and still pass.  I only missed one and I really shouldn’t have missed that one.  I’ve been beating myself up for it all week.  But my flight was 3rd in overall percentage.  We have the final test this week on Tuesday.

We also gave briefings this week on a topic we picked from a pretty extensive list they gave us.  Briefings in the Air Force follow a very strict pattern that pretty much always involve a power point.  They could only be between 5 and 9 minutes long and if you went a second over or under (time busted) you failed.  Didn’t matter how great your briefing was.  I did not time bust and came away with an outstanding on a scale that goes from poor (I think) to outstanding.  I did my presentation on the European Union and the death penalty.  If anyone wants me to brief them on said topic, I am now well equipped.

Because we were finally doing something other than sitting in class all day or climbing on things, we wore our blues for the first time.  Here’s a picture of a few of my flight members and me in our blues.


Females where a funny little tie thing I’m not crazy about and my pants are almost comically too large for me but I’m a big fan of the hat.

The females pants also include lovely 1980’s style front pleats while the guys have nice flat front pants.   Oh, and the sword in the picture is what we won for being athletic flight of the week.  If we do well on the final test on Monday we’ll be able to hang onto that for another week…which just gives us more time to accidentally injure each other with it.


And finally, we did get moved up to 2nd class status this week which means we have off base privileges, we’re allowed to wear civilian clothes if we leave the OTS campus immediately, and we are allowed to drink (gasp!).  So of course we did all of the above this weekend.  We went to the bowling alley on Friday night and had pizza and beer.  Honestly, I walked out of my dorm room in civilian clothes with my hair down (which was a huge relief for my hair since it’s been falling out in chunks from the stress of being pulled back very intensely all day, everyday) and my flight looked at me like they’d never seen the likes of me before.  We’ve all grown so accustomed to seeing each other in our strict military fashions that I guess we forgot what it was like to see someone looking completely normal.  Last night we took further advantage of our privileges and went off base to Lonestar Grill and had steaks…sweet sweet red meat.  Today my roommate and I are going to go get coffee…real brewed coffee which I intend to put real, not powdered, cream in.


I think that wraps up this week for the most part.  This coming week is going to be pretty jam packed as well.  We have the final PT test, our second multiple choice test, and Tuesday thru Thursday we’ll be out in the field.  Assuming a I don’t get bitten by a black widow or a snake, both of which they told us are out there, I should be able to post next weekend which will be my LAST weekend here!  Can you believe it?  I certainly can’t and I also can’t wait for my parents, Tom, and Elizabeth to come down here and see what I’ve been up to first hand.

Also, if I have time next weekend, or I may even start it this weekend, I’d like to do a mini-profile on each of my flight members so you all can see the people I’ve been spending A LOT of time with.  It’s also come to my attention that some of my colleagues here at COT have been giving this blog to their family members to give them an idea of what they’ve been up to so they might enjoy that as well.  But for now I’m going to sign off with probably one of the most common things I hear around here…


This is the sound of the HOTEL HELL HOUNDS.


Don’t try to run or we’ll hunt you down.



And yes, we do sing our chant more than any other flight and yes, the other flights make fun of us for it.  They’re just jealous…

Video of Anna on the Assault Course

January 29, 2009

About a week ago I posted some pictures of Anna on the assault course. While we all enjoyed the pictures, I felt that we needed to see the course in action to get a feel for what Anna was really up to.

I did some digging, had to sneak in to a couple facilities ala Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible but I found it. I found a classified video of Anna on the Assault course.

As you can see Anna is doing quite well in training. My one piece of advice for her would be for her to stop looking at the camera and focus.

Burger King and a Fire Drill

January 25, 2009

So today I realized just how much they had broken us.  Today was the first time in two weeks that we were able to eat anywhere but at the chow hall sitting at attention in complete silence.  On Friday we earned Maxwell AFB privileges which meant we could eat dinner anywhere on base. Our options were Burger King.  Honestly, we were  like a pack of catholic school girls drunk for the first time.  We could certainly been described as giddy.  On Irving Park Road there is a Burger King about 2 blocks from my apartment.  I never once in the three years I lived in Chicago ate there.  Tonight I ate Burger King as if it were actually food prepared by a king especially for me.  Drinking Dr. Pepper…well, that I can’t even describe adequately.  Chicken you didn’t have to chew at least a hundred times before safely swallowing.  And best of all, sitting, slouched in my chair, my feet NOT at a 45 degree angle and talking about anything and everything.  Until that moment, when we did one of the most normal things a person can do, go to a fast food restaurant, did I realize how skillfully they make you what they need you to be.

Now after Burger King when we were safely back in our dorms, they decided this would be a good time for a fire drill.  That was a dangerous combination.  A stomach full of greasy food and running across an Air Force base screaming fire.  And I’m not even kidding about the yelling fire…it’s expected.  Apparently the running wasn’t necessary but we were all on such a high, Hotel Flight beat everyone out to the safe zone by like 5 minutes.  Apparently as I streaked past another flight screaming fire and waiving my hands in the air, they, upon seeing me running, panicked and started running themselves.  One of my flight members told them to relax, they didn’t need to run, that was just our athletic director, she likes to run and apparently is easily excitable. I will also have you all know that fires are no laughing matter and should be taken seriously…as I’m sure my roommate would agree since she took her Burger King milk shake with her as she ran screaming out of the dorm.

Those are my stories for tonight.  I hope everyone enjoyed my grossly contorted face on the pictures from the assault course.  This week we have a ropes course which includes climbing a 4 story tall structure and then walking out on a balance beam at the top.  Should be terrifying. We also have a memo, 2 tests, and a briefing due.  That’s my excuse for the short post but this is our last week of intense academic stuff so hopefully less homework in the upcoming weeks will mean more regular posts from me.  I expect you to all be sending my flight good vibes in maintaining our athletic superiority (Tom didn’t tell you we got the top spot out of 10 flights…not too shabby) and pulling ahead in academics which we got second place in this last week.  Oh, and also, just for the record I cannot take credit for Hotel Flight’s athletic dominance.  I was lucky enough to have some very athletic people in my flight and everyone is willing to work their butts off to keep getting better.  Not to mention that my workout plans are coming from Tom’s mom anyway.  So that covers it…since Tom keeps doing an awesome job with maintaining, I really feel like you guys are pretty up to date on my comings and goings.  I miss you all…