Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Guess who's turning 2!!!

So Ms. Makayla turned 2 years old today! I still can't believe it!
It seems like just yesterday I was planning her first birthday party!
And now, today she's running around the house shouting,
"Mummy this! Mummy this!" Holding up her 2 fingers.
She's just growing up sooooo fast!!!

Her vocabulary now consists of: Mummy, Daddy, Grandma, Momo (the dog's name), Joe (from Blues Clues), Baby, Ball, Book, Yeah, Yes, No, Go, Okay, This, There, Think, Have, Pretty, Sit, Dance, Uhh-oh, Ouch, Wow, Weee (if that counts), Please, Thank you, Hello, Bye bye, "A Clue" (learned from Blues Clues) Out, Car, Plane, Vroom, Door, Bed, Phone, Pen, Kay-On (Crayon), Apple juice, Banana, Chee-Ohhs (Cherios), Cereal, Chicken, Chip, Cheese, Gogurt (Yogurt), Soup, Imma (Lima) Beans, Triscits, Cookie, Almonds, Tree, Shoes, Hat, Hair, Teeth, Ear, Eye, Butt, Poop, Blue, Doggy, Pig, Bird, Bob Bob (Sponge Bob), Bath, Bubble, and she says "One, two, teee (three)". She says quite a few other words, but these tend to be the ones that she says the most.

She'll put short phrases together like, "I love you", "Mummy Pee", "Oh shesh" (Which sometimes sounds like "Oh Shit"), "Blues Clues", "Hello Grandma", "Come on Mo!", "Not right now" (Probably the phraise I say most to her), "Change it" (talking about the TV channel), "What is this", "what's that?", "I don't know", "right there" (probably her favorite phrase), "butt bomb" (haha don't ask), And I'm sure I'm forgetting a few.

She knows what sounds a doggy, kitty, sheep, goat, duck, pig, frog, cow, rabbit and Santa make. She knows where her eyes, nose, mouth, ears, teeth, hair, tummy, butt, fingers, toes, hands and feet are! She does simple tasks like put away her toys or go and get something like her shoes when asked. She can only count to three right now, but we're workin on it... And I'm pretty sure the only color she knows is blue. HaHa.

She can sing (hum) the tune to ABC's, The Doodlebops theme (can also do the dance, even tries to breakdance like Moe), Little Einstines theme, Sponge Bob Square Pants, Lazy Town, a couple of the songs in Bunny Town... And she knows not only the tune and the majority of the words, but can also do all the hand gestures/dances that go along with the Blues Clues theme ("Another Blues Clues day"), "Playing Blues Clues", Blues Clues "Mail Song", Blues Clues "goodbye"... Can ya tell she's way obsessed with Blues Clues?


She can now dress herself. Although her pants are usually on backwards and her shirts are on inside out. But I guess that's an improvement from last month when she kept insisting on putting her shirts on as skirts. And she can now get her shoe's on the correct feet... Usually. HaHa.

Other then that, Makayla is getting SOOOOO big. She weighs 32 lbs and is 36" tall. She wears mostly 3T pants and dresses but can still fit in most 24m/2T tops (even some 18m if they're long enough). But what seems to amaze everyone the most... She has to wear size 8-9 shoes! Poor thing, she got damned with my freaky big feet... Good thing I've got a lot of size 11 shoes to hand down to her.

Well anywayz, Makayla's been sleeping in her "big girl bed" (the twin bed) since March 7th. Both at bed time and at nap time. She does so well. The first night we had to rock her to sleep and go in there a couple times to put her back in bed... But she was out cold within 20 mins. After that, things went as smoothly as when we were putting her in her playpen. It was a little harder to get her to sleep at nap time... The first day I went to check on her and found her passed out on the floor blocking the door. Poor thing. But since then things have slowly gotten better. She's now to the point we just go and lay her down, she'll usually get up once, check under the door to see if she can see us, then just gets back in her bed, and I guess, just goes to sleep.

As far as potty training goes, I am so proud of her! She just really took to it! We worked on potty training for exactly 14 days and she totally had it down! She really only has to wear diapers on long car trips and at nap/bed time. She'll usually ask to go to the bathroom by saying "Mummy Pee" and leading me to the bathroom to open the door for her. We're still working on the whole poop thing. She's only done a 2 in the big girl potty, twice, but I don't know, I'm not really pushing it right now, so I'm not worried.

So I've been looking into preschools around here since the majority of the private ones start at 2 1/2 which means she'd start next October... But she needs to get registared now so insure her spot will be held since she can't start till after the school year. We really haven't decided exactly what we're going to do right now. I've decided against the "summer camp" at the Armed Services YMCA "preschool" cuz really, it just seemed more like a day care to me then an actual preschool. You just drop your kid off at 8 and pick them up at 5... And this is 5 days a week? Yeah, that's day care... Not "preschool." And I really don't feel day care's approperate for children. I always figured you had the kids, you should raise them yourself rather then dump them on someone else (and yes there are exceptions).

Anywayz, i think I'm going to wait till the end of October and send her to the Southern Baptist school on the other side of town... I was planning on sending her to Norfolk Christian Sept of 09, but they've seemed to raise their tuition. They were $999 a year for K3 (3 half days) but they've changed it to $1020 and only 2 half days which I'm kinda bummed about... I guess that's better then the other school I was looking at, Calvary Christian, which I would have LOVED to send her to cuz it's less then a block from our house, but I think $5200 for K3-K4 and $5518 for K5-5th is CRAZY expensive. I'm gunna make one attempt to get a job there to see what kind of tuition discount I can get... If it's only 10% i'm not even going to bother and she's just going to the Southern Baptist school.

Anywayz, another reason I'm wantin her to start preschool at 2 1/2 is cuz I haven't found too many play groups around here. There's no play groups sponsered by the NMCRS or Fleet and Family Services/MCCS... There's a monthly one held at the "community center" (AKA housing office)... I'm not too impressed. The last get-together they had a story time in the play room, but the kids weren't allowed to play with the toys... So that didn't go over to well with Makayla (or the other kids her age)... Then they took everyone into another room where there was a Color Me Mine representative there who had ceramic stuff for the kids to paint... Although no one was told the kids would be painting, so half of us ended up leaving cuz we didn't feel like TRYING to get what were most likely TOXIC glazes out of our toddler/babies good clothes. So anywayz, I've scheduled Makayla to start in a toddlers tumblers class starting mid-May, hopefully to socialize her a little more since she hasn't had much interaction with kids her age since we moved here. I just wish places like the zoo, library and children's museum would have programs for 2 year olds... But everything but tumblers starts at 3... Which kinda sucks.

But anywayz, i'm really sad to see the first 2 years pass... But i'm really excited to see what this next year holds. She's learned so much here in the past 2 or 3 weeks and i'm really excited to see how much more she'll bloom in the upcomming months.

Monday, April 28, 2008


You know, I've been planning Makayla's birthday party for the past couple months... But I don't know... I don't think it's really started to sink in till just now. Makayla got a birthday card from GreatGrandma yesterday and it had a big "2" on the front of it... And wow, it just hit me like that. I'm just about to become a mother to a 2 year old! I know it's startin to hit Mike too... He was gettin all sappy and nostalgic about Kenny Chesney's "Don't Blink"... "Don't blink, Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap and you, Wake up and you're twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife. Don't blink, You just might miss your babies growing like mine did, Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your "better half," Of fifty years is there in bed. And you're praying God takes you instead. Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think. So don't blink." Now I understand why my mom told me mom's start to get "Baby Fever" about this time... I'm fightin it though. HaHa. We're not wantin another rug rat for another 2 or 3 years... Well I say that now. HaHa.

So anywayz, in the sprite of reminiscing, I started goin through Makayla's baby books and was just so amazed by how much she's learned and grown in the past 2 years!

First lifted head: 2 days old
First grasped an object: 1 1/2m
Rolled from stomach to back: 2m
First grabbed at an object: 2 1/2m
Rolled from back to stomach: 4m
Worm crawled: 5m
First sat up unassisted: 5 1/2m old
Started being fed rice cereal: 6m
Raised up to the crawling position: 6m
Pulled up to stand: 6m, 1w
Started getting fed babyfood: 6m,3w
Started crawling: 7m (kinda) she did a weird pimp crawl on her feet
First said "Dada": 8m birthday
FINALLY got her 1st tooth: 8m birthday (same day she said Dada)
First grasped with finger and thumb: 8 1/2m
Walked unassisted: 9m, 6 days old
First said Mama: 9 1/2m (the day after daddy deployed)
FINALLY slept through the night: 11 months old!
Went potty in the big girl pot: 22m
Was potty trained: 14 days later
Started sleeping in a twin bed: 22 1/2

Also, I came across this old blog that I wrote May 3nd, 2006. Three days after Makayla was born:

Just FYI for those who didn't know me 2 years ago, Mike deployed when I was 7 months pregnant and didn't return till Makayla was 3 months old... Also so you'll understand the blog, my mom had come up from Cali (we were stationed in AZ at the time) since I was a week past my due date and scheduled to be induced the following Tuesday, Makayla was born on a Sunday.

I awoke at
4 am from a dream that I was in labor. As I laid in bed just praying I was imagining the cramps, I knew "it was time." I laid there till 6 am when I finally decided that I should go downstairs and wake up my mom. I gently taped her arm and told her my stomach hurt, and her half agile reply was "go eat something." I said, "No, my stomach really hurts, like cramps," well my mom jumped strait up and said "You get a stopwatch, I'll make the coffee!" and she ran off to the kitchen.

I went upstairs and sent an email to Mike letting him know I thought I was in labor. I brought a stopwatch downstairs where my mom and I timed the contractions. They were only 4 and a half minutes apart, so we decided I would wait out the majority of the labor at home.

I went online again and emailed Mike again telling him I was defiantly in labor but would probably be home for a while. I showered and shaved my legs and threw my hair up in a pony tail. Just as I got downstairs and relaxed on the couch Mike called! I think it was about 8am at this point (7pm in Iraq, he worked nights).

The whole morning I had been up on the internet, packing my bag and cleaning the house and on and off the phone with Mike... Oh yeah, and sneaking food since my mom wouldn't let me eat... So around 10:30 am, I finally laid down to relax since the contractions were gettin pretty bad and my mom wanted me to time them... Well my contractions had just gone from being 3-4 minutes apart just a couple hours ago to being 2 minutes apart. So my mom decided it was probably time to get ready to leave for the hospital... Well I kept procrastinating cuz I didn't wanna leave since Mike was supposed to be calling at any minute and I needed to tell him we were leaving. I waited and waited and waited... FINALLY he called. We exchanged a few words and I finally told my mom we could go.

So we ended up leaving here [the house] about 11:30am... Sorry if this is too graphic but my mom told me to pee before I left and she'd be waiting in the car... So I pee then come out to the car... We just get off base and the silence was killing me... So I try to make small talk by telling her I probably shouldn't have eaten that big steak last night... She asked why... I told her I had to go to the bathroom... She got kinda mad and was all "Steph, you told me you went!" I said "No, that THAT no. 2." She immediately stepped on the gas and says "You don't have to shit, that's the baby, just don't push!" ...Well no kidding.

So we got to the hospital about noon, by the time I made it to the hospital my contractions had started to run together. Ok, so we get into the parking lot... And my moms takin her dear sweet time gettin out of the car... I just grab our bag and waddle to the front desk as fast as I can... Ok, so this totally irritated me. I'm standing there standing right in front of the damn receptionist who was on the phone. I say "excuse me" a couple times... She just put her finger up, motioning for me to wait. I started taping my nails and said "I'm in labor" now mind you, I'm totally hunched over the desk in pain and she could totally care less ...I kid you not, she rolls her eyes at me and says "Or so you think". So after gettin both my mom and my ID's she tells us to go through the doors and make the 3rd left then the 1st left... Seriously, I can barely walk, no wheel chair or nuthin. So we go down there, it was triage... But no one was there. This was ridiculous, my contractions had completely run together and I couldn't even stand up any more so I just plopped down in a chair in the middle of the stupid hall... My mom just ran down the halls screaming for someone... FINALLY some nurse popped her head out of a room and informed us everyone was "out to lunch"... I don't really know what happened, but my mom went and exchanged a few words with her and less then a minute later there was another nurse there taking my information... Again... For the 3rd time... I mean aren't they supposed to keep that crap on file? But seriously, no one was in a hurry. UGH! OK, so finally at like 12:40 I got checked in and assessed... Turns out I slept through the majority of my labor and by the point I got to the hospital I was already 9cm (you deliver at 10) well the L&D nurses thought it was too late to give me an epidural (like I requested in a birth plan) but LUCKILY the anesthesiologist said he could give me one... I was like so thrilled after that.

Well my midwife showed up to the hospital at 1pm and checked me again, I was at 10 and said that she could break my water and just deliver Makayla now If I wanted I said I could wait if they had other things to do, I wanted to watch TV for a little bit and get my money's worth outta this epidural. HaHa. So the nurses that were helping out with the delivery went and did some other stuff and I just kind of hung out there (not like I could go anywhere, I couldn't feel my legs)... So then like everyone came in at 2 and while they were getting everything set up the phone in the delivery room rang... It was Mike :-) So I was happy, I gotta be on the phone with him the whole time... Everyone kept making fun of me cuz we (me and Mike) were cracking jokes between pushes and I just kept telling Mike how much I love epidurals (he kept asking me what drugs I was on). But anyway, in the end it wasn't bad at all, labor went by pretty fast (I started pushing at 2:07 and Makayla was born at 2:33), it was actually pretty painless, we didn't have any complications and they discharged me 24 hrs later (Monday).

So far we're doing well at home... The first night was pretty hairy... I got maybe 30 mins of sleep in the hospital. Between my mom's snoring, and the stupid nurses coming in every hour the either check mine or Makayla's vitals... I finally broke down about 3am when I had a nurse come in for the 5th or 6th time to tell me she was going to FORCE Makayla to take formula because she didn't want to eat. Ya know, God forbid a baby want to sleep for 5 hrs after just being completely traumatized by birth. But at 3am, when a "nurse" came in to "inform" me that my daughter was going to "starve to death" if she didn't get food, and if I didn't wake her up within 30 mins she was coming back and would be forces to give her formula... I had it, I felt bad about waking my mom up at 3am because it clearly wasn't her problem... But something just didn't seem right, so I woke my mom up, who's been an RN for the past 15 or so years. She was PISSED! Stormed out of the room, we were right by the nurses desk... I just heard shouting and 15 mins later my mom came back with a syringe and a thing of formula and told me to just give her Makayla. She gave her half an oz and said that should get the nurse off our back for a few hours... NOPE! She was back in there within a hour complaining about the same damn thing! Seriously, this kinda crap is what makes women NOT want to breastfeed!

Well anywayz, Monday Paula, the NMCRD Visiting Nurse came to visit me and put me at ease in the hospital. She met me at the house too, just hours after I got discharged. Makayla's kinda having some issues nursing, but we're working on that. Don't want to get into too many details on here. HaHa.

Well anywayz after that awful night at the hospital I pretty much had a nervous breakdown at the house lastnight, a mix of lack of sleep, too much stress, and uninvited guests has just totally gotten to me, (since I had only gotten a total of 30 minutes of sleep while at the hospital). But LUCKILY by mom said we could try sleeping in shifts last night, she'd let me sleep for 4 hrs and then she'd wake me up and she'd get to sleep for 4 hrs... Well luckily the baby went to sleep and slept for quite a while and my mom ended up letting me sleep till
5:30... OMG, those were the best 5 and a half hrs of sleep in my whole life! I felt so much better after that, my mom got sleep and today went MUCH better then last night... Unfortunately, its 1am
and of course I'm awake, I did get to sleep for about a hr a little while ago though... Hopefully I'll get to bed in about an hour or so, I'm pretty beat.

Wow... Ok... after reading all that... Especially the crap about the nights after I got home from the hospital... Umm, yeah... I no longer got the baby fevor. HaHa.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day 2008

Not sure what else to post. I've found you'll either care about the environment, or you wont. It's pointless to spend hours writing a blog about the benefits of recycling, concerning energy, and using biodegradable products. So this is all I got... The end.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Information and charts about Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) that the military pays when members are authorized to reside off base at government expense.

Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA)
Active duty members who are stationed overseas (except for Alaska and Hawaii), and are authorized to live off base at government expense, do no receive a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). Instead, they receive a different allowance, called Overseas Housing Allowance, or OHA.

2008 Guard and Reserve Housing Allowance
Guard and Reserve members on active duty for less than 30 continuous days receive a different type of housing allowance than active duty members. This type of housing allowance is known as Basic Allowance for Housing Reserve Component/Transit (BAH RC/T), formerly known as BAH Type II.

2008 Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) Rates
Military members who are authorized to reside off-base at government expense receive a monthly housing allowance known as Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH. Here are the Military BAH amounts for the year 2008.

2007 Guard/Reserve Housing Allowance
Guard and Reserve members on active duty for less than 30 continuous days receive a different type of housing allowance than active duty members. This type of housing allowance is known as Basic Allowance for Housing Reserve Component/Transit (BAH RC/T).

2007 Average BAH Rates

Military housing allowances are based on the member's rank, duty location, and whether or not they have dependents (family members). The charts here show the average of those allowances for 2007.
2007 Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
The Fiscal Year 2007 Military Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates for military personnel. BAH is payable to military members who are authorized to reside off-base at government expense. The amount payable is based upon location, rank, and whether or not the member has any dependents (family members).

BAH Type II (FY 2006)
Guard and Reserve members on active duty for less than 30 days receive a different type of housing allowance than active duty members. This type of housing allowance is known as Basic Allowance for Housing, Type II.

2006 Housing Allowance Rates
he Fiscal Year 2006 Military Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates for military personnel. BAH is payable to military members who are authorized to reside off-base at government expense. The amount payable is based upon location, rank, and whether or not the member has any dependents (family members).

Housing Allowance Rules Change 31 Dec (2005)
About 30,000 single servicemembers who live off base and pay child support are likely to see a slight change in their military pay - an increase for some and cut for others -- beginning in January (2006). The rules regarding the basic allowance for housing differential - an allotment for single members who pay child support -- will change Dec. 31.

Geographic Rate Protection
Defense officials are eliminating the "geographic rate protection" clause that ensures service members moving to a new area receive the same housing allowance as those already living there. Geographic rate protection is expiring in January (2006) because Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates have reached a level where service members no longer have to pay out-of-pocket expenses for housing.

Geographic Bachelors
The Army has now announced an end to the geographic bachelor program for stateside Army installations and Army installations in Alaska and Hawaii. In other words, soldiers with dependents, drawing a housing allowance can no longer live for free in Army barracks.

Single Army Staff Sergeants Can Move Off Base
Single Army staff sergeants (E-6) on stateside military installations will be allowed to live off post thanks to a new policy announced March 9 (2005). The policy authorizes non-dependent basic allowance for housing pay to single staff sergeants on installations in the continental United States, Hawaii and Alaska. It does not apply to overseas facilities.

BAH Type II (FY 2005)
Guard and Reserve members on active duty for less than 140 days receive a different type of housing allowance than active duty members. This type of housing allowance is known as Basic Allowance for Housing, Type II.

FY 2005 Military Basic Allowance For Housing
The Fiscal Year 2005 Military Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates for military personnel. BAH is payable to military members who are authorized to reside off-base at government expense. The amount payable is based upon location, rank, and whether or not the member has any dependents (family members).

Basic Allowance for Housing Overview
Overview of the Military's Housing Allowance System, known as Basic Allowance for Housing.

Military Housing Allowance -- How Rates are Determined
Beginning in January 2005, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates are designed to cover 100 percent of the average rental costs for the type of dwelling authorized for the specific paygrade (rank). Here's how the rates are determined.

FY 2003 Military Basic Allowance For Housing (Officers with Dependents)
The Fiscal Year 2003 Military Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates for commissioned officers with dependents. BAH is payable to military members who are authorized to reside off-base at government expense. The amount payable is based upon location, rank, and whether or not the member has any dependents (family members).

BAH for Single Sailors
Message which describes the new policy of granting a housing allowance (BAH) to shipboard single sailors in the rank of E-4, with more than four years of service.

FY 2004 Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)
In calendar year 2003, service members living "on the economy" have been paying an average of 7.5 percent of the housing costs out-of-pocket. That dropped to 3.5 in FY 2004. Housing allowance rates are based upon rank, location, and whether or not a member has dependents.

BAH for Junior Dual-Couple Sailors
The Navy announced good news for junior Sailors married to other junior Sailors: if you are both on sea duty, you can now each receive Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).

Guard/Reserve Housing Allowance (FY 2004)
Guard and Reserve members on active duty for less than 140 days receive a different type of housing allowance than active duty members, called BAH Type II.

Housing Allowance for Members Paying Child Support
Special rules apply for active duty members who live in the barracks and pay child support. Military members who don't have custody, and are paying child support, ARE NOT authorized to reside in the barracks and receive full-rate BAH. Instead, such members are paid an entitlement called BAH-DIFF, or BAH Differential.

Housing Allowance (FY 2003)
When a servicemember is authorized to reside off-base at government expense, DOD pays a housing allowance, called "Basic Allowance for Housing" (BAH). In 2003, BAH has increased by an overall average of 8 percent over 2002 rates.

Guard/Reserve Housing Allowance (FY 2003)
Guard and Reserve members on active duty for less than 140 days receive a different type of housing allowance than active duty members.

Housing Allowance (Child Support) for FY 2003
Special rules apply for active duty members who live in the barracks and pay child support. Military members who don't have custody, and are paying child support, ARE NOT authorized to reside in the barracks and receive full-rate BAH. Instead, such members are paid an entitlement called BAH-DIFF, or BAH Differential.

Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) Rules
The Basic Allowance for Housing rate depends on location, rank, and whether or not the military member has dependents. A question often asked is if the military member and the member's dependents live in separate locations, what location is used to determine the Basic Allowance for Housing rate?

BAH & Family Support
Overall DOD policy concerning the receipt of BAH with dependent rates, and responsibility to provide for family support. Requires Acrobat Reader.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Why you shouldn't eat meat.

Meat-Industrial Complex
How factory farms undercut public health
By Mark Winne

The sorry gaze of a factory farm commodity.

Drive through Don Oppliger’s Feed Yard in Clovis, New Mexico, and you’ll see 35,000 head of beef cattle confined to pens that stretch across the flat, barren landscape.

The constant shuffling of hooves raises a bacteria-laden dust cloud that’s carried by the prevailing winds into west Texas, where it joins the plumes of hundreds of other feedlots. At one end of the complex sits a giant lagoon that catches the operation’s chemicals, urine, antibiotics and other effluvia. In the narrow strip of land that separates the fencing from the road lie the carcasses of dead cows (a.k.a. “downers”), eyes bugged out, tongues dangling and bellies bloated in the summer heat.

Moving from bovine to porcine, factory hog farms generate an odor so intense it would knock a buzzard off a shit-wagon. In cramped warehouse structures, as many as 20,000 hogs are confined for their entire lives. After five months, the mature hogs are sent off to the slaughterhouse to have their throats slit and carcasses dipped in chemical vats to loosen their skins. According to Anita Poole, legal counsel for the Oklahoma-based Kerr Center, which has fought that state’s takeover by the hog industry, “The average Joe Blow who might stumble into a hog facility would never want to eat pork again.”

U.S. shoppers spend less on food as a percentage of their total annual expenditures than anyone else in the world. But this is because factory livestock farms—labeled “concentrated animal feeding operations” (CAFOs) by government agencies—don’t pay for the natural resources they have squandered, the farm labor they have maltreated, the declining health of residents who live near their operations, or the animals that have been exploited far beyond their biological capabilities.

Texas County is in Oklahoma’s Panhandle region. In 1990 it had 11,000 hogs. Today, according to the Kerr Center, the number has swollen to more than one million. For a region that was in economic decline, the offer by Seaboard Farms to locate an industrial-style hog operation held out the promise of reinvigorating the flagging economy, creating desperately needed jobs and re-filling the empty school desks.

But it came with a price. Seaboard demanded and received $60 million in local and state government assistance. This worked out to $27,552 per new job, a tolerable sum if the jobs paid $20 per hour, but the average hourly Seaboard wage was less than $8. In spite of the low wages, the deal might have been justified if the community received a commensurate growth in tax revenues. But by the time the county completed the financing deal with Seaboard, they had agreed to taxes of $9,700 per year until 2017 on a business site valued at $100 million. Even after Seaboard agreed to pay $175,000 annually to the district’s school board for the next 25 years, this still amounted to the county forgoing $120,000 per year.

Factory hog operations not only pay a meager return on a community’s investment, they also extract a high price from the surrounding region. With Seaboard’s influx of jobs came an increase in population, which in turn brought about a sharp rise in crime. From 1990 to 1997, crime in Texas County increased by 74 percent compared to a 12 percent decline in other rural Oklahoma counties. And factory farm workers in the West and Midwest are increasingly Mexican immigrants, only about half of whom are legally documented. They bring with them a host of needs that these rural communities are unequipped to handle.

But the worst problems are created by the ungodly amount of manure—an estimated 15 million pounds per day in Texas County. Because of water run-off from factory farms, both groundwater and surface water quality have declined. Even worse, the Ogallala Aquifer upon which the region depends for its water is being depleted at a rapid rate. The Oklahoma Water Resource Board reported that water levels in many Texas County wells have dropped 50 to 100 feet over the last 30 years, due in large part to the high water demand of factory hog operations and the irrigated farmland that supports them.

Across the nation, factory farms of all types are wreaking environmental havoc. A 1995 North Carolina manure spill killed 10 million fish and closed 364,000 acres of coastal shellfish beds. In 2004 the Iowa Department of Natural Resources recorded ammonia levels near a hog factory that were six times the recommended health standard. In California’s San Joaquin Valley, air pollution from factory dairy farms is a major reason that the region’s children have asthma rates three times the national average. In eastern New Mexico—the state’s factory dairy farm belt—recent research discovered antibiotic-resistant bacteria in dairy yards. For these reasons, the American Public Health Association has urged all levels of government to impose a moratorium on new CAFOs until a comprehensive environmental and health assessment can be conducted.

Herein lies the rub. The same government and private industry partnership that brought CAFOs to America’s marginalized rural communities is highly invested in not just keeping them there, but in seeing them metastasize. Through lax environmental regulations or the under-funding of agencies charged with regulating CAFOs, state governments have fostered CAFO-friendly policies at the public’s expense. To further protect their flank, factory farm interests have worked aggressively in state legislatures to restrict the ability of local government to keep CAFOs out of their communities. And just to be sure, New Mexico’s dairy industry considers it an act of “civic duty” for its farmer members to “serve” on local commissions and boards.

The halls of academe have likewise been compromised by CAFO industry “donations” to universities. Rather than use their scientific talents to assess the impact of CAFOs, research faculty are required to solve the industry’s problems (e.g., disposing of Himalayan mountains of manure). In 1998, New Mexico State University researcher Stephen Arnold found serious air and water quality problems near dairy operations in southern New Mexico. When the results were released through professional journals and conferences, the dairy industry complained so vehemently to the university that Arnold abandoned his research. And the Kerr Center’s Poole reports, “Oklahoma State University won’t do community impact research because of all the money they get from the pork industry.”

Barely 5 percent of U.S. farms now raise 54 percent of the country’s beef and dairy cattle. Corporations now produce 98 percent of all poultry. Small to mid-size family livestock farms are going the way of the dodo. While “local food movements” and a resurgent interest in grass-fed and free-range animal production are gaining traction and deserve our full support, they will never be enough to stem the “blood-dimmed tide” of the livestock industry.

Are the research reports, the scientific studies, and the occasional manure spill only isolated “factoids” in an otherwise benign landscape of inevitable agricultural modernization? Or is the increasing flow of data and the growing number of incident reports the proverbial canary in a coal mine? A recent World Watch Institute paper pronounced, “Factory Farms are breaking the cycle between small farmers, their animals and the environment, with collateral damage to human health and local communities.” And the Washington Post reported on North Carolina State University professor C.M. “Mike” Williams, who has spent five years researching how to treat manure from the state’s 10 million hogs. He concluded, “I do not feel that system [of factory hog farms] is long-term sustainable.”

Dr. Charles Benbrook, a former executive director of the Board of Agriculture for the National Academy of Science, shares Williams’ assessment. After years spent studying the dairy industry, Benbrook says he is “perplexed” by the growth of gargantuan dairy farms west of the Mississippi where subsidized water supplies in an otherwise dry landscape have made the expansion of dairy herds feasible—in the short term. In the long term, says Benbrook, further expansion of factory dairy farms “doesn’t make sense and is patently unsustainable because water will become too costly, and in not less than five years, but surely no more than 20, the dairy waste stream will overwhelm the absorptive capacity of the local environment.”

In other words, our food system may be looking at a doomsday denouement before the middle of this century. It is becoming increasingly certain that the water will run out, the land will no longer absorb the torrent of nutrient waste spread upon it, and the over-bred, antibiotic and hormone-injected animals will eventually succumb to their natural limitations. Poole puts it this way, “The factory system of food production will simply implode.” Until the citizens of the heartland rise up in sufficient numbers to hold their government and the corporations accountable, this is both the best and worst we can hope for.

(Mark Winne is a freelance writer from Santa Fe, New Mexico.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Applying for Base Housing

How to apply for base housing
  • Step 1:
    Obtain the "Application for Assignment to Housing" (form DD1746) at your current family housing office or by contacting the family housing office at your destination base.
  • Step 2:
    Mail, fax or email the completed DD1746 housing form and a copy of your current orders to the family housing office at your destination base.
  • Step 3:
    Report to the family housing office after you have checked in with your unit to ensure your name is active on the wait-list. Some bases require you to check in before they will put your name on the wait-list, so you must check in as quickly as possible.
  • Step 4:
    Update your contact information with the family housing office if it has changed from the time you submitted your paperwork.
  • Step 5:
    Consider finding temporary housing in the surrounding community until base housing becomes available.
  • Step 6:
    Respond to the family housing office within 24 hours of being contacted that housing is available.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check with the family housing office of your destination base to find out their preferred method of receiving housing applications.
  • If you fail to respond to the family housing office within 24 hours of being contacted that housing is available, you risk losing your spot in the wait list.
  • Depending on deployment schedules for the base you are assigned to, the wait-list could be as short as 3 months or as long as 18 months. The family housing office should be able to give you an idea of how long the wait is at the time you submit your application.
  • If PCSing, the estimated waiting period will be based on your projected arrival date and not on the date of application.
  • Regularly check in with your local housing office to monitor your wait time.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Steph & Mike update.

So people keep asking how me and Mike are doin since I never write an update on us... Well I figure it's such an icky day outside and I have nuthin better to do... Here ya go...

Me and Mike are doin really good, finally settled in our new house. Still workin on that TMO claim, but that should be settled here in the next week or two. Finally got it decorated for the most part, I've just got 2 (out of 16 curtains) that I still need to hang, I've just been totally lazy about that. Our grass is finally starting to come in, in the backyard and I actually bought a lawn mower (well a push mower) and mowed a lawn for the first time (in my entire life) last week. I felt special... Mike just sat there laughing at me since I was doin it in Uggs, PJ pants and a tank top (in 50 degree weather)... I'm just waiting for my parents to come at the end of the month and bring us their weed whacker and edger... They're both VERY much needed.

So I've finally decided to go back to college, I'm taking classes through American Military University and workin on a BA in Forensics. So now that the semesters started and I've pretty much already committed to going to that school... NOW they come back and tell me that they're only going to accept freakin 5 out of my 20+ classes!

So they're ONLY willing to accept my PoliSci, Psych, Eng100, Hist 1930+ and a humanities class. But even though they offer the same exact classes, and the ones at my old college were even titled the SAME THINGS, they're not willing to accept: Art Appreciation, Music Appreciation, History of the Korean War, Criminal Law and Criminal Investigations. And what sux, is a couple of them are the SAME FREAKIN CLASSES, but they just have different names... Like I took "Intro to Criminal Justice", but this school calls it "Intro to Criminal Administration" so they wont give me credit for the class... And I took "Criminal Procedure & Evidence" at my old school, but this school calls it "Criminal Legal Process" but it's described as the same exact thing! BLAH!

I just think that's so stupid. It's just another way for the college to make extra money. Well I don't know... I need to get a hold of someone in the admin dept and petition it... Mike says he really doesn't see it going anywhere... It just irritates me that I busted my ass to keep a 3.5 GPA... And now it's just like, none of that crap counts... Well who know, I guess it'll just make the classes I have to take even easer so I can work for a 4.0 this time. I'm just bummed cuz I thought I only had 2 more years left of college... And now if they don't count all the classes I had already taken, now I've got more like 3 years... So gay. Well I have NO idea what in the world I'm planning on doing as a career. I certainly wont be returning to work till AFTER I get all the kids into at least kindergarten... So that'll be... Well 8-10 years down the road. And at that point I'll me in my *cough* mid 30's *cough* and that's probably too late to be looking at law school... So I figure I'm probably just gunna keep attending classes till we don't qualify for financial aid any more. Right now we qualify for FULL... So I'm takin 3 classes a semester (summer, spring, fall)... I should get the BA in Forensics in 3 years... As of right now, I think I'll probably just continue to take classes and just go for a double major in International Relations rather then going for my masters... Not like I really need another degree... But I figure it just gives me sumthin to do.

As far as Mike goes, he's doin great. He loves his job... He's part of Commander Naval Air Forces Atlantic, but because he's a Marine, he falls under MarForCom... From what I can figure out, he works for CNAF and answers to Naval Officers in CNAF... But because the Navy has different PFT standards then the Marine Corps, he has to go over to Camp Allen and run PFT's with MarForCom ::shrugs:: I really don't get it... And i'm not really sure he does either. HaHa. Anywayz, Mike had been working in a part of his shop where he just did general supply for aircraft on a few L-Deck's based out of here. But like 3 or 4 weeks ago, they made him the NCOIC of state side fixed wing supply's goin over to the Marine unit who just deployed to Afghanistan. So I think he's pretty happy with that. He also got his FitReps yesterday... Got mostly D's, which he swears is good concidering the CO averages B's-C's. I guess he was told that he only gived D's and E's to Marine's that he'd recomend for advanced promotion... (here's info on FitReps if you don't know how they work) And said that he NEVER gives F's or G's (cuz supposedly that means that the Marine should be able to "walk on water"). He said the only reason he wouldn't give Mike E's was because he's been a Sgt for less then a year and hasn't been to Sgt's course yet. So he's been recomended for that, so I should get a 6 week vacation from him since he'll have to go to Quantico or Lejeune to take it. So that should be nice. He also said if Mike keeps up the work ethic he's got now he'll be recomended for advanced promotion in a year... So maybe he can pick up Ssgt in another 2 years... Rather then 3-4. Well anyways Mike's playing 3rd base for the NavSta's softball team, they havent played their first game yet, and I really have no idea when that is... He's just been practising a couple times a week. He's also on his unit's Golf team... Honestly he SUCKS at golf, I have no idea why even put him on the team... Probably just cuz he's got a decent set of clubs, HaHa. But whatever. Gets him out more I guess.

Mike also started school also at AMU, but he's majoring in Business Management... I forget what he's minoring in... Somethin havin to do with Military Logistics or something. He's finished 1 class so far, got an A in it, and is currently taking 3 more classes. According to him he's got A's in all those, but we'll see.

Other then that, Makayla's good, we're (well I'm) busy planning her birthday party. We decided to not do the Blues Clues theme cuz I was having a hard time finding "cute" party supplies. So we've decided to opt for a Tinkerbell theme since she's now obsessed with the Disney Fairy's... But I'll write more on that later...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

TMO troubles...

So we finally heard back from our moving company about our damage clam... Ya know, we’ve only been here for 4 months... It’s about freakin time.

So here’s what we are getting:
Cake platter $55
2 table lamps $25 each
Cabinet/Organizer $30
2 white book shelves $39.99 each
Handmade terracotta pot Marine $40
Canvas/Medal framed basket $18
Black floating shelf $20
Photo frame $15
Hawaiian Lamp Shade $35
Standing floor lamp $45
Bamboo ’70 dresser $350
Brown tall 4 drawer dresser: $90
Brown short 4 drawer dresser: $50
Washing machine, $300 (even though we paid $350)
Printer/scanner/copier $100 (even though we paid $250 less then a yr ago)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So first I gotta call Epson (the printer company) tomorrow to see if the printer can even be fixed for $100... I really don’t think it can, I know exactly what’s wrong with it, but I need to get the parts... Which Mike and I both think we’re just gunna need to buy a whole new printer... So in that case i’ll need to full $250 back from them.

Ok, so then I need to call the moving company cuz they’re trying to tell us that the leather lamp shade we’re claiming wasn’t damaged by them...Well i’d like for them to tell me who exactly demolished it cuz when it got put into the box in Yuma it was in perfect shape, when we got it out of the box here it was completely unusable. But what really irritates me is that when the appraiser came last month he said he was listing it as $35... We’ll I’d like to know why the moving company is now stating that he said the moving company wasn’t at fault. Somone certainly was, and since we had no contact with the boxs between point A and B where it was damaged, someone other then us needs to be responsible for this.

Also they didn’t list the $35 tea kettle and $200 desk that we filed clams for... So I gotta figure why, if they even have a reason at all, for not listing those.

So our total settlement came to $1227.98 ...But with the lamp shade, tea kettle, and desk that they WILL reimburse us for, we should be getting $1397.98 back... So I guess a few bucks short of $1,400 isn’t too back... Almost way too much hassle then it’s worth though.