Apr 18, 2008

Aaron's site

Aaron has a new blog site. He "promises" to keep this one updated as best he can. He already has TWO, count 'em, TWO posts on his new site.

There is also a poll for YOU, the reader, on what you would like to read about.


Sep 26, 2007

Days Like These

It’s days like these when I wish “two weeks’ notice” was in some Army regulation somewhere. Rest assured, I would know precisely what the Army had in mind whenever they put that phrase into one of their seemingly-infinite regulations or manuals.

Today wasn’t a particularly bad day. In fact, I was out of the office, albeit, sitting in a class, but I was out of the office the majority of the day nonetheless.

It’s difficult to say what made this such a particularly bad day.

Maybe it was the fact that my family and I had plans for this evening, and they were thwarted.

Maybe it was the fact that it was well over 85° F in the office when I finally did have to go in.

It could have been that 5:00pm crawled on by without a passing glance, and 7:00pm, even though I was finally able to go home at that time, looked less than pleasant.

I’m sure tomorrow will be better, as it always is.

But if it’s just as bad or worse, I’m definitely going to be cracking open an Army Reg. or two and searching for a particular phrase.

Aug 17, 2007

Training...and Then Here

Yes, I know it's been awhile since I've updated our info. site, but I was off doing some training for the Army. It wasn't the Army that needed the training though, oddly enough. Evidently, it was me who needed it.

I was there in Grafenwoehr, Germany for nearly a month, firing my new M4 (the updated version of the M16), Firing the M240B (machine gun), and firing the .50 cal (REALLY BIG machine gun).

Finally, we all got on a bus and headed back to the wonderful little town of Baumholder, while, although it isn't much in regards to a military post, it is home for the next few years.

Tricia suggested we go away for the weekend, and she suggested Paris. (It's awesome to think that we now live only a few minutes from the most visited city in the world.)

We decided we couldn't afford to go to Paris right now, so we decided against it, but we still wanted to go somewhere for the 4-day weekend.

Since Tricia's birthday was the 15th of August, I decided I wanted to take her somewhere really special.

And that's how we ended up here...in Paris. :-)

We have already experienced a bit of Paris culture, and I'll tell you about that in the next post. But for now, we're preparing to go sightseeing - the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and possibly Hard Rock Cafe (Paris).

So for now...

Jul 5, 2007

Independence Day

I can't help but to wonder what that first Independence Day in 1776 was like, as those who had fought themselves out from under the tyranny of England rejoiced and shouted in the streets soon after the Declaration of Independence was signed.

The sun was likely shining brighter than it ever had (at least for the Americans) on that 4th of July...a far cry from July 4, 2007 here in Europe.

Just to prepare us for the "wonderful" day we would have, the European weather decided to pour torrents of rain down onto the gently sloping terrain of central Europe for the two weeks leading up to our July 4th celebration.

And we have big plans...we're going to Six Flags in Belgium today (July 4th). The forecast calls for a slight chance of rain (100%, to be exact), but that doesn't deter our clever American planning. The further we drive (it's about a 3 hour trip), the more optimistic we become. "Yep, looks like it's clearing up," I say, as the rain, seemingly in response to my claim, once again begins pelting our windshield.

We finally make it to Six Flags in the beautiful country of Belgium, and it's shaping up to be a gorgeous day. It's not raining, and the sun is starting to shine.

Little did we know, Belgium weather is a bit more erratic than Germany weather. The sunshine we had all praised God for when we arrived suddenly decided it wasn't needed anymore and within fifteen minutes the skies were once again cloud-covered. Another ten minutes and the rains came pouring down. (I could go on like this for hours; the weather certainly did.)

Now we certainly didn't have a bad time. In fact, it was quite enjoyable. I must say, that's the first time I've ever been on a water ride in the rain.

Of course, I did miss the sunny weather, the cookouts, and the inevitable sunburn brought about by July 4ths in the states, but hey...I'm experiencing Europe and making memories with my wonderful family.

Please don't mistake my tongue-in-cheek post for complaining, for my next July 4th will be spent on a FOB (Forward Operating Base) somewhere in Iraq, wishing I could be sitting in the Belgian rain on an electric roller coaster, wondering if this was really such a good idea.

*To view pictures (and a roller coaster video) of our 4th of July Six Flags trip, visit http://picasaweb.google.com/aaronwp/SixFlagsBelgium.

Jun 25, 2007

Got It All Together Enough to Rant a Little

This blog was initially begun to keep everyone updated on our lives here in Germany. Ironically, I only posted once, today now being my second post.

Cousin Sarah, Uncle Jerry, Cousin Jason, and the distant relatives in Chicago finally got it all together, and Tricia, Caitlyn, and I are all here in Germany together.

Of course, Germany is great! It's just a little...correction, A LOT, different than the states. T-Mobile is the only phone company in the entire country, so if you want a cell phone, land line, high speed internet access, or even a pager (Who uses pagers anymore?), you are forced to go through T-Mobile.

Oh, sure, they have different names: TKS, Deutche Telekom, Only Choice in the Country, Verizon Who?, and Plural, just to name a few...but they're all from the same parent company, T-Mobile.

You can't get angry with them, scream at their customer representatives over the phone, tell them you're switching to a different service, and slam the phone down on its receiver unless you don't want to have phone or internet connectivity for the entire three years you live here.

(Clarification: If you bought your own satellite, you could connect through SATCOM, but it's probably easier and a bit more cost-efficient to just deal with whatever T-Mobile gives you in the way of telephone/internet service.)


That's the magic time for seemingly all Germans to shut down their lives. (Frankly, that's probably why they lost the war. 6:30 rolls around and they're settling down for the night.) It's rare that you find any store open past 7:00PM, be it gas station, restaurant, or even your friendly T-Mobile customer service department.

So, if you're planning dinner for tomorrow and you need tomato sauce for the spaghetti, don't expect to be able to just run out to Wal-Mart right quick and be back in less than 30 minutes. For one thing, Wal-Mart already tried to establish itself in Germany, but was kicked out for attmepting to remain open for 24 hours and for paying its workers too little. (Strangly enough, the richest, most powerful nation in the world is okay with both these ideas.) And secondly, you're not going to find a German store open within, well, within the majority of the country.

And don't bother getting up early to go get that tomato sauce either. Most German stores open around 10:00AM, a few opening at 9:00AM. So, you may have to push dinner back a couple hours, but you'll eventually be able to get that tomato sauce...that is, unless you're looking to shop on the weekend. Don't even get me started on the weekend schedules!

But hey, we're in Germany, the heart of Europe! What's not to love? Thousands were mercilessly slain here by the Germanic Horde. Thousands more were murdered during the Crusades for not becoming Christians. Then there was World War II, what Germans like to refer to as "a slight misunderstanding and conflict of ideas"* where millions of Jews were killed in cold blood and thousands upon thousands of troops died, fighting for what they believed in. Yes, this is truly a country full of history, some great and some not so great. I say again, what's not love about living in Europe?

(You think I'm ranting now!? Rumor has it I'm getting an all-expenses-paid trip to the Middle East. Just wait 'til that one....)

*The Germans don't really think this way.

Apr 16, 2007

News (and maybe a view or two)

This post marks the beginning of what will hopefully be a long-standing tradition of sorts; that of updating this our site with current, up-to-date information about us.

Tricia, Caitlyn, and myself were once again separated by the great institution more commonly referred to as the U.S. Army, or, depending on who you ask, "Those people in the uniforms that don't blend in with anything". Instead of being 2,000 and some odd miles away and 2 or 3 hours behind, I am now approximately 5,000 miles from home, 6 hours ahead, and loving the Army more and more.* (*Right.)

We are still waiting on what the Army calls "Command Sponsorship". Basically, it's just a signature from my commander saying that it's okay to bring my family over here to live with me.

In the civilian world, a single signature isn't normally all that difficult to get. Let's say you need a signature from your Uncle Jerry. Seems easy enough, right? Not if Uncle Jerry is your commander in the Army. First, you have to get all the necessary paperwork from some friends. Then you have to wait on your distant relatives in Chicago to send you some more paperwork, and of course, since these relatives really don't know who you are anyway, they're no hurry. Finally, the paperwork from your Chicago relatives comes in and you think you're well on your way. You cannot take the paperwork to be signed directly to Uncle Jerry. Nooo...that would make entirely too much sense. You must first find Cousin Sarah, who probably hasn't talked to Uncle Jerry in weeks, maybe months. You give the paperwork to Cousin Sarah, who glances through it and tells you she'll submit it that afternoon.

Cousin Sarah calls you three days later explaining that you didn't turn in everything that Uncle Jerry needs to see. Of course, you promptly find Cousin Sarah again and deliver the necessary paperwork. Another three days passes and you call Cousin Sarah to see if Uncle Jerry has signed the paperwork yet. Cousin Sarah sheepishly informs you that she completely forgot about it, but that she'll submit it as soon as she gets off the phone with you.

"Cousin Sarah" shows up on your caller ID the following day, and you snatch up the phone, hoping she has good news for you. She informs you that you must bring her another copy of all the paperwork because she seems to have lost every bit of it. Of course, she informs you of this at approximately three minutes till five on a Friday evening, so you have to wait until Monday to go see Cousin Sarah again and give her all the required paperwork.

Cousin Sarah decides to take Monday off.

On Tuesday, you resubmit all the paperwork to Cousin Sarah, and you stand and watch her fax everything to Cousin Jason.

The fax lays on the fax machine until you finally call Cousin Jason two days later and inform him that he has a fax that needs to be signed by Uncle Jerry. (Cousin Jason had no idea about this.)

Uncle Jerry is on vacation until next Monday.

The paperwork finally crosses Uncle Jerry's desk mid-afternoon Monday, and in 45 seconds or less, the required signing is complete.

Tricia, Caitlyn and I are still waiting on the distant relatives to get us the required paperwork (passports) so we can start work on the process to get signatures we need from "Uncle Jerry".

Other than being 5,000 miles apart, we're all doing fine, a little anxious, but fine nonetheless. Caitlyn is doing well, and is growing as fast as ever.

If you would like to see pictures of our beautiful little girl, click http://picasaweb.google.com/aaronwp

**The names used in this post, though not fictional, do in no way reflect the logistics of getting an autograph from my Uncle Jerry.