Monday, August 29, 2005

Apprehensively Awaiting Hurricane Katrina's Landfall In New Orleans

I've been nervous all day watching the news reports about New Orleans' apparent impending doom. Many news reports are already calling this the storm of the century, and it's going to hit the worst possible location: New Orleans. I really hope I have a city to go back to. :-( Here's one article that won't let me sleep easy tonight:

Friday, August 26, 2005

Lt Western on an Antenna Site Survey

Originally uploaded by Juston Western.
Hello from 75 feet above Dover AFB in a Condor bucket truck crane.

Looking Forward To The Weekend

With the end of the (military) fiscal year approaching, things have been crazy around the office this week due to my "additional duty" as the Billing Official for the Comm Resource Advisor. I enjoyed my accounting classes in college, but having 5 Excel spreadsheets open (each with about 8 - 12 tabs) and a desk full of financial printouts and multiple calculators has lost any appeal it may have had.

On the bright side, though, it's been a big week for software, with Google Desktop 2, Google Talk, & TiVo Desktop 2.2 all launching. I've had a little time to play around with all 3, but I'm really looking forward to testing them out this weekend.

I think I'm also ready to break down and buy a few more hard drives. At my current rate of downloading at least 1GB of music a week (with the Essential Mix, John Digweed's Kiss 100 shows, Hernan Cattaneo's Metrodance shows, and other live mixes from Mercury Nation & djmixes2k), my 700GB of storage is zapped. I'm looking to buy 1 or 2 320GB hard drives from, & another spindle of 100 DVD+R's.

One more day of work this week looms on the horizon, and it's expected to be just as busy as the previous four days, so it's time to get some rest.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Oh The Unintended Irony

On Thursday I got a thank you note via base mail from the Wing Commander thanking me for my work on the Dover Wing Mission Video. If you'll remember, it was debuted last Monday at the annual MILCON briefing, and I was somewhat amused that the soundtrack to the video (all electronica) was going to be listened to by Senator Biden, who was co-sponsor of the RAVE Act (see my previous post for all the details). Well, upon reading that note, I couldn't help but audibly chuckle after seeing his word choice. Read the scan of the note above to see what I mean. :-)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Wing Mission Video at MILCON & Getting a Coin

The briefing at the Sheraton for MILCON went well on Monday. I got to the hotel at about 5:45AM to work with Milt on setting up the laptop and making sure that Col Cox’s slides and my video were working smoothly. As planned, each worked perfectly. After the presentation of the Wing Mission Video, there was a rather boisterous round of applause, so it’s good to see my creative work flies with the public at large.

Ironically, Senator Biden had to follow the Wing Mission Video. The most peculiar part, however, is that he was actually tapping his foot to the music during the Underworld tracks. Could Mr. RAVE Act himself potentially be a closet Underworld fan? The more likely answer is that he had a few too many cups of coffee that morning and would’ve been keeping beat with a washing machine had it been in the room.

It was interesting hearing Sen. Biden, Sen. Carper, & Congressman Castle speak. One thing I will say about Delawarians: they are just as passionate about their state as Texans. Admittedly, most politicians have love for their state, but these guys eat, drink, & sleep Delaware. I was also told at the briefing that Sen. Biden is considering running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. I don’t think I’d vote for the guy, but it’ll be neat to say I ate breakfast about 10 feet away from him when he was “only a Senator”.

This morning on my way to work, I got a call from Maj West letting me know that my presence had been requested at the Wing Standup Meeting scheduled for 8:00AM. At first I thought they wanted me there to take inputs and feedback on the video from all the group & squadron commanders (which would have been less than pleasant trying to consolidate 25 opinions into a revised product). Quite the opposite was the case, however. Col Cox asked that I come so that he could recognize me in front of the base leaders and give me a Commanders Coin.

So that was a welcome, albeit unexpected, reward for working on this project so much over the past 3 weeks. Truth be told, the project was tedious, but entertaining and educational, too. I had the opportunity to learn a new software tool, and I’ll probably end up creating a few slideshow videos for my website because of this experience.

For those of you who may not have seen it, you can view the Dover AFB Wing Mission Video at this location. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to install Google Video Player on your computer to view it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"Mildly 'Sticking It To The Man' " OR "Monday's Fun With Sen. Biden (Mr. RAVE Act)"

First to bring you up to speed...

I got tasked about two weeks ago with creating a "Wing Mission Video" for Dover AFB. Apparently our new Wing Commander was stationed at Charleston AFB before coming here, and they kept one of these videos on file to show to VIP's, newcomers to base, & state/local leaders at briefings.

Since we don't have any real "video" footage from Dover, and they weren't willing to buy me a video camera to run around with for a few weeks (boooo!), I told them that I could do a “glorified PowerPoint presentation”, using Windows Movie Maker and including photos from base spliced together (with pans & zooms) along with some stock video clips of C-5's and Night Vision Goggle stuff.

They said that was what they had in mind anyway, so I went to work gathering photos. At the first meeting I asked if there were any musical requests, but I was just told to make it tasteful (i.e. no gangsta rap or death metal). Other than that, the Wing Commander told me I could essentially use whatever songs I wanted.

Well, after foraging through my music collection (who knew I had so many electronica MP3's?!) I settled on a 6 minute medley of clips from the following songs:

Underworld - Dark & Long
Leftfield - Song of Life
Orbital - Lush
Underworld - Pearl's Girl
Sasha - Xpander
Underworld - Two Months Off
Underworld - Cowgirl

Aside from the fact I'm apparently on a huge Underworld kick this week, it's obviously not your typical background music for military-related events/slideshows/videos/whatever. But I showed our Wing Commander a draft of the video earlier this week, and the only suggestions he had were for photo tweaks & additions. He said the music was fine with him, and rather "upbeat".

At the end of the meeting, he told me that the first official showing of the video would be at a meeting next week downtown in Dover, where all the state & local big shots will be in include, that's right, Mr. RAVE Act himself, Senator Joseph Biden. For those of you who may have forgotten, check out this link from EMDEF.

Now I'm not disillusioned: I know the RAVE Act was not legislation proposed out of Sen. Biden's disdain for electronica. But I'm going out a limb here, and I'd say maybe, just maybe, that we're not going to find any Ministry of Sound albums in his car CD changer. And by the witty name of his now-defunct bill, I'd say that in his mind, drug use & raves are inextricably linked.

So maybe it's just a passive-aggressive streak in me, but I'll take some amount of pleasure in pushing the play button in Windows Media Player on Monday morning and treating the most honorable senator from Delaware to 5 minutes and 52 seconds of "RAVE music" set to military photos. :-)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sunday, July 17, 2005

We Bought Our First New Car

So just a week after having Ashley's Montero nearly die on us in Philadelphia, we sold it to a used car dealership here in Dover yesterday, and this morning drove up to Chadds Ford, PA where we bought Ashley a 2005 Aquarius Blue Beetle Convertible.

This purchase was really a long time coming. Ashley started looking at buying one of these back in the summer of 2003, and I even bought her the plush flower for the dash-mounted vase along with a Beetle Convertible keychain almost two years ago.

Thankfully USAA made the whole buying process painless, and we didn't even have to hear a sales pitch: all the paperwork and financing was taken care of before we even got to the dealership.

It rained nearly the whole drive back to Dover, so Ashley couldn't put the top down. But after we ate lunch and went grocery shopping, we decided to drive south to Rehoboth Beach to see if the sun was out. As luck would have it, the sun was out and we got to drive along the boardwalk with the top down and the music bumping.

We thought we'd be ambitious and head back to Dover with the top down. About halfway home the bottom fell out, and we had to pull onto the side of the road to get the top back up. The interior got a little wet, but I was able to dry all of it up with my shirt.

I can already tell that we're going to have a lot of fun with this car. Ashley absolutely adores it, and I know I'll get plenty of enjoyment out of going for joy rides on the weekend in it. As with most of my posts, I'll end this one with a link to some photos we took of the occasion. Here's a look back at the day of the first Western automobile purchase:

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

New York City & Getting No Sleep

This past weekend was a total whirlwind. On Friday afternoon I had Officer Professional Development (OPD) at the O Club (Mugs) and then a Hail & Farewell directly following it at the Landings, so by the time I got home & changed, it was time to head to Philly to pick up Ashley's friends.

We took Ashley's Montero since we were picking up 3 people + their luggage. Unfortunately, about 5 miles away from the airport the Montero started making a terrible clunking sound. It kind of sounded like metal-on-metal hitting, and was emanating from the engine. After calling my dad & Ashley's dad, we decided that the best option would be to rent a car at the airport to send Ashley & her friends home in, and then I would wait at the airport until a tow truck could come retrieve me & the Montero.

I took a shuttle from the parking garage over to the rental car area at the airport, and rented Ashley a Ford Escape from Budget. Her guests arrived about half an hour late, but I made sure they all got loaded up, and then sent them on their way back to Dover. I called the tow truck around 11:00PM, and it finally showed up at 1:30AM.

Apparently there was a major accident on I-95 near the airport, so it delayed the guy a significant amount of time. His name was Don, and he was very personable & conversational on the ride back (which made the unfortunate situation a little more bearable). It set me back $350 cash for the tow, in addition to the $65 for renting the Escape for Ashley. However, I didn't care as much about the money as I did that I got back to Dover at 3:30AM, and I had to be up at 4:30AM to get ready to head back to Philadelphia to catch a train New York City.

Yes, it was as bad as you might think so little sleep would be. We got on the road back up to Philly just after 6:00AM, and dropped off the rental car at the airport around 7:30AM. Then we all piled in my Grand Am (which Ashley had followed me in), and headed over to 30th Street Station to catch the AMTRAK train. Our train was about 20 minutes late, but we finally boarded and were on our way to NYC around 9:45AM.

It was my first time taking a train anywhere (save the monorail at Disney World or the subway in NYC), so there was a certain novelty involved. Unfortunately I was dead tired, so I probably enjoyed it a little less than I might have had I not gotten only an hour of sleep. We arrived in Penn Station just before noon and got a couple of cabs over to our hotel at Beekman Towers.

We had two rooms reserved there, but they had overbooked the hotel for the night. This actually worked to our advantage, though, because they offered us a 1,000 square foot apartment style suite instead. We had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and an awesome view of the East River from the 23rd floor. After dropping off our luggage, we caught a couple of cabs over to Times Square, and then walked down to 42nd St to eat at John's Pizzeria.

Thankfully our lunch didn't take long, and we made it over to 12th Ave. in time to catch the 2:30PM Circle Line Cruise around Manhattan. It was a 3 hour cruise (like Ashley & took in 2002), we got to see lots of great sights, I snapped some stellar pictures, and I even caught a 15 minute nap on the middle deck during a thunderstorm.

After the cruise, we went back to the hotel to shower, and then went to the Bull & Bear Bar at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for dinner. I neglected to mention earlier that I had been wearing my sunglasses all day since my eyes were so blood shot from lack of sleep. So even after the sun set, I decided to keep my sunglasses on. When I showed up for dinner well-dressed, in sunglasses, and with 4 other females in formal attire, I understandably turned some heads.

Dinner was great. Ashley & I both got Filet Mignons (which was the third best steak I've ever consumed), had a couple of glasses of wine, and then actually went to the bar area for drinks. I asked the bartender what Frank Sinatra's favorite drink was when he came to the bar (FYI: he lived at the Waldorf Astoria for many years, so he frequented this bar quite often), and he replied with, "Frank always got a double Jack Daniels on the rocks." I told him I'd take it, and that sent the night into hyper drive.

After having drinks there, we went across the street to the Whiskey Blue at the W Hotel. It was so packed there, though, that we left before even getting drinks. Then I suggested we go to "The View" which was the rotating restaurant/bar on the 48th floor of the Marriott Hotel in Times Square. We caught a couple of cabs over there, waited to catch the two elevators to the top, and then b/c the bouncer thought I was important (b/c of sunglasses and 4 women) we got to cut in line and go directly to a table.

We all had a drink there, watched the Manhattan skyline go by, and then decided we should head back to our hotel to check out the bar at the top of it called "Top of Tower". The view was amazing, but the combination of lack of sleep, several drinks, and just coming from a rotating bar made me think that this bar was rotating, too. That's when we knew it was time to call it a night. Ashley's sister & friend decided to stay at the bar, though.

Well, at around 2:00AM, we got a knock on our bedroom door, and it was Ashley's sister saying that her friend, Tammy, had lost her wallet in the cab we took back to the hotel. So we had the NYPD come to our hotel at 3:00AM to file a report. I, however, was too tired to even regain consciousness for this excitement, and didn't really understand what had occurred until the next morning.

On Sunday we walked around 5th Ave, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, 6th Ave, Little Italy, & China Town. I was running on fumes by Sunday afternoon, so we just kind of took it easy towards the end of the day, and hung out at a bar in Little Italy. Then we got our luggage from the hotel, went back to Penn Station, had dinner at Nathan's Hotdogs in the station, and then got on the train at around 8:00PM. One thing of note about train travel: I HATE how there aren't assigned seats (like on planes), so everyone basically sprints through the station, down the stairs, and then onto the bus to fight for seats like animals. That aspect was pretty unappealing.

We finally made it back from Philly to Dover at around midnight, so again I only got a few hours of sleep before having to go back to work. Monday was probably the longest day of work I've ever experienced. I was totally drained from the weekend, but managed to get through the day without dying. We hit up Smither's for dinner last night (a Jamaican cheesesteak & a couple of Yuenglings made my life a little happier), and then I went to bed at 7:45PM.

Ashley took her friends back to the airport today, so were finally settling back into a normal routine. I caught up on my Attack of the Show episodes & The 4400 from Sunday over dinner tonight. And we're probably going to buy Ashley's New Beetle Convertible this Saturday to just wash our hands of the Montero which looks like it's dying. So even though it's only just past 8:00PM right now, I'm going to call it a night again to finally catch up on my lack of sleep. You can relive the NYC trip with me by checking out the photo gallery below. Goodnight everyone!

Friday, July 08, 2005

4th of July Wrap-Up, London Terrorism, & NYC This Weekend

I finally got around to labeling my Braves vs. Phillies photos from last Saturday. The game was a lot of fun, albeit rather short (only about 2.5 hours). Still gave us plenty of time to have a couple of hot dogs and Yuenglings, though. :-) You can check out the photos at:

As I was eating breakfast this morning at around 6:00AM, I got an IM from my friend Clemente telling me he was alright. I didn't understand, and then he told me to turn on the TV. He was visiting his sister in London this week, and the explosion that rocked the bus this morning was only a few blocks away from where he was staying. It really made the whole thing hit close to home for me. Then at work this morning I was scheduled to get a "gas mask fit test". So there I was at the Bioenvironmental building, watching this footage of the terrorist attack on CNN through my gas mask. It was kind of surreal. I called my friend Brian (who had studied abroad at the London School of Economics in 2003), too, to make sure he had touched base with all his friends. Thankfully, he said that none of his friends were in the area at the time.

On a lighter note, Ashley's sister, cousin, & former room mate are flying into town tomorrow. We're going to pick them up in Philly tomorrow night, then we're all heading up to NYC on Saturday morning. We're taking AMTRAK out of Philly, so the London attacks kind of made this trip a little more tense for all of us. None of us have ever taken a passenger train, but I guess now is as good of time as any since security will be so increased. We'll be staying the night on Saturday about a block away from the United Nations, and we'll be taking a cruise around Manhattan during the day. Hopefully the weather will hold up, and I'll be able to snap lots of good pics. On Saturday night, we're also having dinner at the Bull & Bear Bar in the legendary Waldorf Astoria hotel. I'm REALLY looking forward to this, as Frank Sinatra actually recorded an album in that very bar. It's supposed to be one of the top 3 classic bars in the world. Sounds like my kind of place! I'll try to have pics up by the middle of next week.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Another 4 Day Weekend

Thanks to AMC, I'm getting my second 4 day weekend in a month's time for the 4th of July holiday. Ashley & I are hitting up the Braves vs. Phillies game in Philadelphia on Saturday with Capt Brummitt and his wife, so I'm looking forward to that. Aside from the trip to Philly, my goal this weekend is to make a lot of progress on I've created about 45 photo galleries to date, and I'd say I still have roughly that many to go before the Photo section is complete. But that's only one of about 20 sections I hope to launch, so there is still much work to be done.

Then next weekend, we're headed back to New York City, this time with Ashley's sister, cousin, and college roomate. We'll be taking the train into Penn Station on Saturday morning, playing around midtown in the afternoon, then having dinner at the Bull & Bear Bar at the Waldorf Astoria that evening. We're staying at the Beekman Towers by the United Nations on Saturday night, and then on Sunday we'll spend most of the day in the SoHo area before heading back to Dover that night. Look for photos from all of these trips soon!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Vanden Dries' Wedding & New York City

I haven't had much time to post the last week, but last weekend was a lot of fun with Sean's bachelor party in Atlantic City on Friday and then his wedding at Dover Downs on Saturday. I'm still waiting to get some photos that Aaron took at the party, but I'll have a gallery from the Bachelor Party up hopefully by the end of the week. Here are the photos that Ashley & I took at the wedding:

Yesterday we took another day trip up to New York City. I've been TiVo'ing lots of shows about NYC on the Travel Channel & Food Network, so we made a point of hitting up some restaurants and bars that we had recently learned about. We also checked out Nintendo World, which was a giant Nintendo store/museum, so that was like a childhood dream realized. It was really hot (upwards of 90 degrees all day), but we had a blast. Here are the photos:

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Photos From The C-5 Refueling Flight

Even though we were up late on Friday night having drinks with Byron & Jillian, we still made it up in time on Saturday to take the C-5 Refueling Flight. We had to be on base at 8:00AM to get a pre-flight brief, then we were bused over to the Passenger Terminal to go through security. We were on the plane by 9:00AM, and we finally took off at 10:15AM after they did some maintenance on the plane. It was crazy walking around in the cargo area on that thing midflight, and going into the cockpit for the refueling portion was just surreal. It was definitely worth getting up early on a Saturday morning. You can check out our photos at:

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Going on a C-5 Flight this Saturday

I signed Ashley & I up for a 2.5 hour C-5 refueling flight this Saturday at 8:00AM. Neither of us have ever even been in a C-5, but after seeing these things fly overhead for the past 4 months, I thought I should jump at the chance to actually go up in one of these mammoths. Public Affairs told me that I could bring my camera on board, so I should have some photos up by Sunday evening.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

New York City & NASCAR

Well, the first week of June got started off with a bang. My brother Matthew flew into Philadelphia on Thursday night, and Ashley & I took him out to TGIFriday's in Dover at around 10:30PM before getting to bed. On Friday, I had to work security at Dover Downs for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, but poor weather postponed it. Unfortunately for me, they didn't make the call to postpone the race until after I had already spent 9 hours in the rain.

On Saturday the three of us headed up to New York City on the Leisure Travel bus that Dover AFB operates. You can check out my pictures from the trip at:

On Sunday we headed a few miles away from our apartment to the Dover Speedway for the NASCAR MBNA 400. We all got sunburnt, but had a good time. You can check out photos from that day at:

Today I took leave and brought Math back to Philly to catch his plane, and then ran some errands around Dover. These extended weekends are tiring, but very entertaining!

Friday, May 27, 2005

LT Mafia Does Dover

First night out on the town with the other LT's tonight. We're celebrating Jason's promotion to 1LT by starting out at Smither's and then working our way through the raging metropolis that is Dover from there. God bless 4 day weekends!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Gearing Up For Memorial Day

It's almost 11:00PM on the Wednesday before Memorial Day. We've got the Change of Command ceremony tomorrow for Major Schilling, and then I'm off on Friday & Monday for the holiday. You can't go wrong with 4 day weekends. The next 2 weeks are going to be great with the time off, and then a trip to New York City and the MBNA 400 NASCAR race here in Dover.

I figured I couldn't live in a NASCAR town without checking out one of the races before I left. I'm working at the track on Friday to help with grandstand security, and then I actually I have tickets to the Nextel Cup race on Sunday with Ashley & Matthew.

Should be interesting with all the excitement. I'll be sure to take lots of photos from the various events and get them up on before long. Well, I better hit the rack because 4:30 comes way too early when it's cold outside (imagine the 40's and it's almost June). Goodnight everyone!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Western World Launched Tuesday, March 29, 2005 & the Western World blog have been launched. Look for more updates shortly. :-)

- Juston