Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Of Ballet and the Borg


I am not sure how many times I have gone to see "The Nutcracker" ballet over the course of the holiday seasons, but I would be willing to wager that it has been more than just 'a few'. Almost everyone knows the story, almost every town has it's own production and from grade schools to dance studios to professional companies it get interpreted and performed around this time every year.

Having said that, I was a bit ambivelent when I first heard the radio announcement of the Miami City Ballet performing the staple of the holiday season here. But...I knew that both Robin and I were struggling just a bit with the idea that lit-up palm trees constituded Christmas and I figured it might be a treat to get us into the spirit better while safely checking out the Miami downtown performing arts area. Boy was it a winner. :)

The performing arts center (Adrienne Arsht center) is a wonderful complex reminiscent of the Buelle theatre are in Denver. It consists of a performing arts area and an opera house with several parking areas surrounding the complex. We arrived early and found an easy parking spot (for $15, that is) only a short walk to the complex.

Since I purchased tickets late in the game, we ended up in a second level balcony overlooking the stage. I did manage front row seats at this level (it was not quite sold out) and the view actually ended up being quite good for the price of the tickets. The show started about 10 minutes late (good by Miami standards, I understand) and the performance wsa absolutely excellent. At first we were disappointed that they were not using live orchestra, but after a while it didn't matter. The staging and dancing were top-notch and at one point late in the second act a ballerina stunned all of us with an amazing dance maneuver I'd never seen before. I will try to describe it, but without video it is hard to envision.

En Pointe, on one toe actually, with her body straight up and down and her hand extended toward her male partner she leaned forward slightly and extended a leg backward, making a 90 degree angle between her extended leg and her standing toe. A beautiful pose in itself (I am sure it has a proper name) after a short pause while the music built up for her, she began to move, very slowly, forward ... as if the floor were moving slowly beneath her, but it wasn't. Without any sign of flexing, she was being pulled forward on her one toe by her partner, ever so magically and it just took ones breath away. I can't imagine the strenght involved to hold that position and be pulled across the stage. I don't suspect any trickery, it was just an amazing and unexpected feat. She continued the scene and the rest of the ballet was very enjoyable.

All in all, it was a very welcome change fro the daily routine, and we talked about it for a few days afterward. It did indeed help us greatly in our pursuit if Christmas this year!


On another note, it was moving day here at the old park. We had to change sites to accommodate a 'regular' who is arriving soon. There are a lot of 'snowbirds' who come for the 'season' from everywhere. We se license plaes fro Quebec, Maryland and Texas all right here in the same 'pod' that we are in.

The park has 12 of these 'pods' each holding 15 to 20 RVs plus a pretty good size are for tent-camping. Pods are numbered and spaces are numbered. We were previously located in Pod number 6, space number 9. So naturally we referred to ourselves as "nine of six" ... (if you don't get that it's time to tune in Star Trek Voyager reruns ... and don't tell me you won't :) )

So this week, we had to relocate to pod number 9 and guess what site we got ??? ... nope ... we came close, but ended up in space 6 ... so the best we can do is "six of nine". We will, however, be able request specific spots and pods over the next couple of years and we'll just have to see what we can get :).

resistance is futile...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Trial Separation


Robin just returned home from a week away. We have tried this sort of thing before, and I can tell you that I don't like it ... not one bit :)

Last Friday a about 2 PM we came across an e-mail that stated that a last minute cancellation had opened up one spot in an "Operations Supervisor Workshop". This is a specialized class experience attended and facilitated by first level supervisors from all aspects of the FAA and includes powerful and detailed learning opportunities from many different offices (Human Resources, Quality Assurance, etc) as well as training in Labor/Management relations and perfomance and conduct management. There is usually a wealth of operational and administrative experience attending these seminars and we decided on the spur of the moment that it'd be a great experience for Robin to attend this if we could make it work.
Well, we started out trying to get all the pieces of the travel arrangements put together and it was a very trying experience, but in the end Robin got on the airplane Sunday morning and was whisked away to Atlanta, GA.
There she was met with the government MAstercard she had been assured would be working was in fact being declined (booo). So, she had to front the money for the hotel and rental car until it all got sorted out the next day. It all ended well, but it was a pretty stressful arrival and beginning to the class week.
The class days were full, and she called me from a couple of restaurants and music spots just to make me a bit jealous :). I'd have loved to attend the workshop, but there was only one slot available. So...I got to be a bachelor for a week and it reminded me that I like having her around (a lot). I had a few days to rattle around the fifth wheel (which isn't really all that hard with all of 530 square feet) and accomplished some work on archiving more photos that ended up being tossed into boxes before we headed down here.

I celebrated (well, remembered) that I crossed a milestone of 24 years with the FAA on December 7th this year. It's only coincidental that I was hired on Pearl Harbor day, but it does make it easy to remeber my work anniversary. In March of 2009 I will cross another milestone in having 30 years of government service, which includes time in the U. S. Postal Service and also my service time in the USAF. Wow ... it all kinds of sinks in when you look back on those kinds of markers. I'll be looking foward to my commemorative pin here before too long.

Study continued on the learning of the detail maps required for the job, and I got to attend a meeting and meet all my new peer supervisors (a cople of which I actually remember their names now). It's all still new, but it's beginning to feel less foreign as we start to learn names and faces and offices there, and streets and businesses and a couple of service folks out in town.

Hope you have an awesome Christmas season!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Only 20 more days till Christmas

I'm pleased to report a pretty boring week :) Everything is going along well, and after nearly two months, we almost have the mailing problems sorted out. We still haven't seen hide nor hair of the Colorado absentee ballots, nor a couple of other pieces of mail that we were expecting, but if they are lost it's not that big of a problem right now.
The car is due for an oil change and we are scheduled for haircuts next week. (On that note, we did change the oil on the truck before we left Colorado. Since this is our first experience with a big diesel, we did get a bit of 'sticker-shock' when we found out that this truck's engine holds 25 quarts of!)

The humidity is everything we were told, and it's still the deep part of fall. The sun shines some part of every day and it's been as "cold" as 49 degrees here so far. We still haven't found a snow blower in any Home Depot yet. :) So far I've spotted exactly one cockroach, a Black Widow, several fruit flies and a stealthy little Scorpion in all our home life and local travels but the issue with bug infestations hasn't shown up yet. I am certain that summer, with all the rain and longer, hotter days will change my thinking about these things. For right now, it's still safe to leave the screen door open for a while and lounge around under the awning for an afternoon and not worry about being carried off by the mosquitos. There are a lot of squirrels in the park, and it's fun to watch them run around chasing each other and searching for something to eat smaller than an avacado. (As an aside, Robin planted basil and spearmint several weeks ago and somebody -- i.e. the squirrel -- is digging in the potted planters. Fortunately the herbs have survived the "cold" weather and are thriving in spite of lost soil!)
The long standing and well advertised plan to buy a big saiboat as soon as some mortgages went away may be changing. Recently Robin and I were exploring south and east of our homestead and we found our way to the Black Point Marina and park in the south part of Biscayne Bay. We enjoyed a great lunch at an outdoor cafe and wandered around looking at the boats and facilities. We met and spoke with the harbormaster and came away with the idea that we may delay purchasing the larger sailboat and instead look for a small powerboat to use for the next year or maybe two so that we can better learn some of the ways of the water. It would be an affordable way for us to get out on the water, learn the lay of the immediate vicinity and get involved in the boating community without having a full-time and demanding committment to a large vessel.
The down side is that we will likely not be able to acquire Spring Fever as we had hoped (she's still alive and well in Galveston, having survived hurricane Ike) and will have to start from scratch hunting for our cruising vessel. I suppose there are worse things than having to go boat shopping again.
At any rate, the next few months will still be dedicated to getting settled in and trained at work. This necessarily requires the number one spot on the to-do list and once we are on regular shifts and get established in our posts we can beging to pursue to plan again will full fervor. Maybe we will discover our perfect cruising boat while we're out marina-hopping or maybe perhaps we will find we like power-boating enough to stay with it a bit longer (or perhaps fuel costs will convince us that sail-power is truly the way to go :) ) ... We will keep our options open.
So; the weekend is upon us. Time for some house cleaning (inside and out) and maybe some time at the pool this weekend. After all, it's been a rigorous week of memorization and testing (kind of like most college students go through for four straight years). Time for some planning and exploring and relaxation (oh darn!)

Please remember that this Sunday marks the 67th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

So please accept my deepest thanks to all who've served and sacrificed. My world is a better placed because of the belief in, and the dedication to preserving freedom. I am humbled to know that there are those that fight and die for my safety and I never want to forget what they did and what they are doing.

Coincidentally it's also the day I hired on to the FAA some 24 years ago, so it's pretty easy for me to remember my anniversary.