Saturday, October 15, 2011


It has almost been two years since my husband and I had our first date. Since then, we have had ups and downs just like any other couple. The good times far overshadow any of the struggles that we have had. Through it all, we have been in the middle of issues with the US Army. It sometimes feels like the eye of the storm with a whirlwind of crazy around us all of the time.

For a lot of people, all that they can see is the storm that rages around us....the delays, the separation, the frustrations, and the uncertainty. I have had a lot of people tell me that they could never handle it because they're not strong enough to do it. I know that they mean it as a compliment because they don't see the situation the way that I do. If they did, I doubt that they would say it.

Even though everything around me seems to swirl out of control, I'm in the center of that storm with an amazing man who brings calm into my life. This storm will pass soon enough, and we'll move onto the next adventure. The last 22 months have sometimes seemed to take forever. However, it's a whole lot shorter than the 30 years that it took for us to first meet, and they're both shorter than the time that we will have together after he's out of the Army (God willing).

I'm not saying that it's been's been really tough sometimes. I want to have it done and never have to do it again. The very first thing that I want when he gets off the plane and is home for good is a hug to know that he's really here and to hold his discharge orders in my hands to know that he's never going back. He's worth every bit of it though.

The next time you're about to say that you wouldn't be able to handle our struggle.....stop and really think about it. Are you really going to tell me that your spouse wouldn't be worth the struggle and the wait? Stop and think how wonderful that person is...wouldn't you do way more than this for them? Now....go and let them know how amazing they are and how much you appreciate having them in your life.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saluting Illegal Activities

I work at one of those little neighborhood stores that you see on TV but don't think really exist anymore. We know our regular customers, and not just what brand of cigarettes they smoke. We know who is looking for a new job, who is dating whom, who got arrested and for what (it is one of those neighborhoods), and which parents to tell when the good kids start hanging out with the ones who cause trouble in the neighborhood. We chat with the folks who come into the store. If you stop for directions, we can help you find just about anything in town. If we don't carry what you want, we will let you know where the best place is to find it.

Because of this, and with the neighborhood that we're in, we get a lot of info on some of the not so legal stuff that happens. Some of it folks don't even realize is illegal. For example, folks go fishing for catfish and then sell it to people who transport it to Milwaukee (probably on ice in coolers) for sale. Now, I personally applaud the entrepreneurship of the folks who are doing this. They are providing a useful service for others, and they are able to support their families doing this. (I'm a little less comfortable with people who buy the fish not knowing that it came out of the Fox River. That's another story.) Here's the thing, if they were to take all of the steps to do this legally, it would be cost prohibitive. The guy catching the fish would need a commercial fishing license and a small business license and would have to comply with a host of regulatory requirements. The guy transporting the fish would need a business license, special retrofitting on the vehicle, to be specially licensed to drive a commercial vehicle, and to have all of the fish inspected before sale. The DNR would be involved. The USDA would be involved. The DOT would be involved. There's probably a whole lot of other bureaucratic agencies that would get their fingers in the pot too. This is the kind of thing that people are talking about when they say that the regulatory burden on small businesses is too great. We should be encouraging innovation and allowing people to benefit from it...not taxing it to death. The government needs to get out of the way and let people thrive.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wisconsin Toll Roads?

I grew up not liking toll roads. Why? Because my primary experience was with the toll roads in Illinois. The roads were in horrid condition (and always under construction - a strange combination) and the traffic was always bottled up because you had to stop every few miles and toss coins in the booth. In the years since, I have been to lots of other states with toll roads, and in those states, the roads were in good condition, and they had figured out how to collect the money without interrupting the flow of traffic.

Today I read an article about bringing toll roads to Wisconsin. It initially brought me flashbacks to digging through coins to go through Chicago. Then I finished reading the article, considered the points presented, and decided to give it a second look.

Roads cost money to build and maintain. Raising that money can come from a variety of sources. It is not unreasonable to expect the people who use and benefit from the road to pay for its construction and maintenance. It is actually seems pretty much in line with the idea of "user fees" that Libertarians suggest instead of taxes. I think that I could get behind the idea of toll roads here in Wisconsin under a few conditions.
  1. The gas tax (which is part of the current system for raising money for road repair) needs to be decreased. No double dipping into my pocket. Calculate the percentage of the current gas tax revenues that are allocated for the freeway system (the roads being considered for tolling), and the gas tax must be decreased by AT LEAST that amount. People in this state are feeling a pretty powerful pinch at the pump, and this would bring immediate relief.
  2. Open road tolling needs to be a part of it. The technology is already in place for it. People using the road on a regular basis should not have to deal with the nuisance of all sorts of stupid delays while everyone digs for change.
  3. The system must be able to pay for itself. The cost of collecting revenue plus the cost of maintaining the roads must be covered by the tolls and not require further subsidizing by taxpayers. If it can't do that, it's not a good system, and we shouldn't be using it. After it's up and running, there should not ever again be a dime out of the state or local budgets to run this thing.
  4. The funds raised must be segregated from the general fund. Toll money shouldn't be going to anything else.
If all of these conditions can not be met, then we have no business going any further. If they are met, then it will prove the viability of a privately owned and operated freeway system.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I can not count the number of times that people have said to me, "I could never do what you do," when discussing the situation that Lloyd and I have with the Army. It is a daily challenge for sure. Not seeing him for months, not having a firm timeline when it will all be resolved, not knowing how all the paperwork will turn out in the's not easy. There's a couple of things that people should consider.

First of all...I'm not that strong. I can't handle it on my own. I don't even have the strength right now to take another step. Any power that you see comes from outside of me. I am being carried through it all.

Second of all....distance and time can be overcome if the person is worth it. Stop and think about that. Do you really believe that your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse isn't worth the trouble? If you don't, I feel sorry for you. That's the one really amazing gift that Lloyd and I have from this whole mess....we know the value of our relationship. We know that it is work, and we know that we are willing to put forth the effort.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Help requested

Lloyd has really had a rough go of it these last weeks. I don't know the details of what is happening there, but I do know what's not happening. People aren't doing their jobs and moving his paperwork along, and he's not hearing promising news from the other folks in similar situations. He's also not been able to call home with any regularity, and that always puts him in a worse mood. He sounds so isolated when he is able to call, and it's hard to have to hear that in his voice.

If you want to help, there is something that you can do. It will only take you a couple of minutes, but it will show that you care more than you can imagine. Send him a note or card to let him know that you're thinking of him. (Care packages are very, very tricky. Just about anything you could think to send is considered contraband and will get him into really big trouble.) Every piece of mail that he gets is a lifeline to the real world, and that's worth more than gold. His address is:
SPC Sheffer, Lloyd
C-95th AG BN
2843 Davidson Road
Fort Sill, OK 73503-4443