Thursday, March 29, 2012

MRT Training - (Germany) Day 94

The details of our ruck march this morning for PT around PHV

PT this morning was a ruck march around PHV. We ended up going the extended version which ends up going through all the fancy pants officer's housing area. Their houses have garages and are nice and big. It made the ruck march almost 3 miles. The sergeant leading PT said he wanted to have everyone finish it in 45 minutes. His goal is to have us do a six mile ruck march in one hour and 45 minutes. I have to say that I think ruck marches are the stupidest thing ever…especially in today's army. Troops don't ruck around for miles…especially computer geeks.

Since I was scheduled to work in the mailroom, I thought I would get out of the sergeant's time training today just like last week…but right before the end of PT I was told I needed to attend the training and then go to the mailroom afterward. The training started at 0900 and was in a nice conference room that we've never used before. The room was nice and the chairs were comfy, which turned out to be a problem for a few soldiers because they were told to stand up after nodding off. I have come to loathe most army training that we get. It is a complete waste of time and they give us the same training over and over again like they are trying to beat the information into us. Such was the case with our first training brief this morning. It was given by community bank (operated by Bank of America) and was about finances. Every soldier has had this class in AIT and during in-processing here in Germany. Why do we need it again? Why do I have to hear propaganda from a for-profit bank? Personal feelings aside (I don't use banks, they are "for-profit" greedy corporations that contributed to the collapse of our economy and caused the great recession…I use only credit unions…these are not-for-profit institutions) I think if they offer this class, have an independent financial adviser give it and have them give some better information than the interest rates offered by their bank.

The second class was MRT (Master Resilience Training). This class was all about resiliency. We need to be more like tennis balls and not eggs…we need to bounce back up when we get down…we need to be positive…we need to be optimistic…we need to be enthusiastic. I guess they started this training after so many people were having issues during and after deployments. Now it is being taught to everyone in the army, not just soldiers that are deploying. The concept is not a bad one, and if I came in with an open mind I would get more out of it. I just really wasn't in the right frame of mind after the first training brief.

After the training I went to lunch, then headed to the mailroom. I was shocked to see all of the civilian workers actually putting mail in people's boxes. It was crazy…every single worker was busy getting all the mail delivered. This is something I thought would be normal, but it's the first day I've seen it. I was in shock. I worked customer service at the front counter. It was a pretty slow day with customers coming in at a very slow pace. I did learn how to close a person's box and open a new one for people that are in-processing and out-processing. I'm going to know how to do everything, then I'll leave and go back to my other job…lol.

One nice thing about working in the mailroom is that right at 1700 I leave. I don't have to wait for the boss to come and give any announcements and then dismiss us…I just walk out the front door on time…every day. I went home with my wife and we hung out watching TV shows. Now it's time to go lay in my comfortable bed once again.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bed Arrival - (Germany) Day 93

PT this morning was a run off post. Unfortunately since I've been working in the mailroom, I was not told to come dressed in civilian clothes. So here I am with my PT uniform on, while everyone else has their civilian clothes on. I was going to bring my iPhone to use runkeeper, but my phone didn't have enough charge. We made a similar run before and it was a little over 3 miles. My legs were still pretty sore from my PT test yesterday, but I pushed through it.

Work this morning was another day in the mailroom. Like I said yesterday, I'm not sure how long some piles of mail would just sit around. There were some piles from the beginning of the week still sitting there. I was able to get a few piles out, but I ended up getting called back to my office to take care of some business. I had to submit some paperwork for an FTX that I have to do. I still haven't been given many details about it other than the dates. It's coming up and it's a freakin' month long. I'm not too excited about going…other than I'm supposed to actually be doing my job when I go. I guess I'll hear more when it gets closer.

Back in the mailroom I headed up front to help with customer service (getting people their packages). For some reason the day was really busy. At one point there were three of us working the counter and the line still stretched through the hall. Everyone is doing some spring shopping online I guess.

I left early to be home in time for our long awaited bed to be delivered. I forget what I've said already, but long story short…we didn't ship our huge bed from the states because we weren't sure if we would have enough room in the housing here. We ordered a bed from the PX in January because we knew it could be delivered to our house. We then bought a smaller guest bed at IKEA along with some other furniture on a shopping trip with SPC Whirlwind and his wife. We rented a van for that trip. Since then we've been sleeping on the guest bed with just the mattress laying on our floor thinking it would be a couple weeks before our bed arrived from the PX. After many delays we found out the frame we ordered was on back order. We then decided to just get rails instead…waited and waited. We checked back and after a few phone calls we were told it would be coming soon…waited and waited. Finally it is now here and being delivered.

I was at home waiting and around 1530 they finally came. The nice thing is that not only did they deliver it, they set it completely up and took out all the packaging that came with it. I'm looking forward to a great nights sleep…probably the best since I've been in Germany.

It's A Diagnostic - (Germany) Day 92

Not sure who SPC Bacaylan is, but I saw this stool in the oversized package 
portion of the mailroom and thought it was pretty funny. My guess is that it's 
for the short people to get packages off the top

PT this morning was my diagnostic PT test. I'm not sure why I have to bother with a diagnostic PT test, but unfortunately I do. I guess they have a soldier do a diagnostic PT test to get a feel where they are at before giving them the official PT test. I passed each event, not anything spectacular..but I passed. I don't know the official scores, but I did about 52 push-ups, 42 sit-ups, and ran a 17 minute 2-mile. This would give me about a 212 for my PT score. Definitely not anything to brag about, but I don't need a high score for anything else. I'm not looking to get promoted to an NCO. Since leaving Korea I feel that my PT has gone downhill a bit. I felt pretty good working out in the gym everyday there, but here we don't do a lot of muscle work…we do however run a lot and I've heard we will run even more in the spring and summer as the weather gets nicer.

Work as usual lately was in the mailroom, but I went into the office first and logged onto a computer to check my email and such before heading over to the mailroom. Once in the mailroom I went to work putting all the mail I pitched yesterday into people's actual mailboxes. I did this until we opened for customers at 1100 and then worked customer service up front. The place has two soldiers working in it. Me and a staff sergeant who is getting Med-Boarded, so he's just doing this administrative work until he gets out. We also have the high schooler I talked about before. There are a number of civilians that work as well, but I'm not really sure how anything gets done without the soldiers and this volunteer. In fact I'm not even sure where the civilians disappear to half the time. It's no wonder why things take so long to get delivered…I see stuff just sitting around all the time.

I finally got signed up to attend the basic motorcycle riders course. This is a required course if you would like to get a license to ride here in Europe. It sucks that they just can't use my motorcycle endorsement from the states since I have already taken the German driving class to get my regular license over here. The problem is because of an upcoming FTX I have to attend, I can't take the class until June. So my motorcycle will just keep sitting in our parking spot until then.

After work I headed home and relaxed. We had pizza and ice cream to celebrate the passing of my PT test!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Slow Mail Day - (Germany) Day 91

This is where I "Pitch Mail" take big piles of unsorted mail and get it 
somewhat organized so it can be taken to the mailboxes grouped together

This morning PT was pretty easy for me. I'm scheduled to take a diagnostic PT test tomorrow, so instead of doing normal PT me and a few others who are taking a PT test tomorrow just stretched and then walked until PT was over. My goal today is to try and take it easy and drink a lot of fluids.

Work was again in the mailroom this week. When I arrived, I found out that a couple of the civilians had called in sick and others had to leave to go pick up mail…so we we're on a real skeleton crew. I was put to work right away "pitching mail". There were piles and piles of magazines and other various pieces of mail sitting in a corner. I had to take it and sort it into boxes. Each box represented a hundred mailboxes (i.e. 100-199, 200-299 etc). I spent the morning doing that until we opened for customers at 1100. At that time I went up front and worked customer service.

I didn't realize until now how slow this mail system can be. Because people called in sick, there was a lot of mail that just would not be delivered today. I did a lot of pre-sorting the mail, but it just sat in those slots all day never making it to the mailboxes. If all the military mailrooms are like this one I now understand why the mail is so slow to arrive.

Nothing real special about the day other than a lot of mail not being delivered. I hydrated quite a bit which in turn caused me to have to frequent the bathroom often. I then headed home and spent some quality time with my wife.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Marriage Retreat - (Germany) Days 88 - 90

Me and my wife in front of Neuschwanstein Castle

Friday: This morning we woke up at 0600 and proceeded to get ready to go. I didn't have to go to PT formation or anything which was nice, I get the day off and the weekend off because of this marriage retreat. We left about 0700 to the shoppette to pick up some supplies and then to the gas station to fill up before we headed out. Not sure if I mentioned how gas works here in Heidelberg or not, but it's not like other bases I've been to where there is a gas station located on post. Here we are given ration cards (looks like a debit card) that is tied to our vehicle. We're allowed 400 liters of gas a month. The card acts just like a debit card, meaning that we have to fill it up with cash at any shoppette on post. Once it has money on it, we can use it at any Esso gas station. Even though we purchase gas at the Esso station on the German economy, the card is only charged the US prices. This gives us a lot more options than just one gas station on post which is nice.

Anyway…back to the day. I put the address in the GPS for the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort and we took off. The autobahn still amazes me when I drive on it for any length of time. I found that my car will not let me put it in cruise control at 100, the max is 89. Even while driving 100 MPH I was still passed by quite a few cars. I'm not talking a car slowly driving by on me left side, I'm talking I see some lights in the distance and before I know it a car goes flying by me! Keep in mind that I stayed anywhere between 85 and 100 MPH…it didn't matter.

The drawbacks of the autobahn is that there can be some serious slow downs when there is a wreck or construction and we ran into both during our trip down. One accident involved 3 semi trucks! As we went through a tunnel and came out we went straight into Austria. I wasn't planning on leaving the country, in fact we are supposed to fill out some special forms and crap anytime we leave…we are also supposed to have an international drivers license. My darn GPS decided this way would be faster. I have to admit though the scenery in Austria on our way to the Edelweiss resort was just amazing! There was still quite a bit of snow in the mountains with the small towns, this made for some breathtaking views.

We finally arrived about 4 hours later. The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort is army operated for the military. You have to show your military ID to get in just like any other post. The place is the sister resort of The Dragon Hill lodge located at my last duty station in Yongsan Korea. Edelweiss is located right at the base of a number of mountains, so there are great views everywhere you look.

Because we were coming for the marriage retreat, the lodging along with breakfast and dinner were free. We had to attend a few hours of classes starting at 1300. These were mostly on communication, which I always tell my wife is perhaps the most important thing in a relationship. After the classes we were free for the night, but after the drive and the classes all we wanted to do was relax. We did do a quick workout in their fitness room and then spent some time in the hot tub :)

The view (although a little foggy) of the mountains from
The Edelweiss Lodge and Resort 

Saturday: The morning started at 0630. We woke up early to attend breakfast in order to avoid the rush. We had the buffet and then headed back to our room to get ready for our morning classes. The classes were from 0900 to about 1130. We then decided to head to Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle was the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. The drive was about an hour and I think it was well worth it. Once we parked, we had to make a half hour walk up to the castle which is located on a hill overlooking the valley. The castle was amazing, it's just unfortunate that we were unable to take pictures inside. The only way to go inside the castle is via a guided tour, but the tour was interesting and they have them available in English as well.

After the tour we drove back and spent the rest of the night in the hotel. We had dinner at the steak house located in the hotel. We then relaxed and watched a movie in our room.

Sunday: The morning was the same as yesterday, we got up early and ate breakfast. We had to check out of the hotel, but still attended a couple hours of classes in the morning from 0900 until almost 1100. Once that was finished we were released for the weekend.

We had decided to go to the Dachau concentration camp. This is not your typical vacation destination, but it was located on the way home and is a place I wanted to see just because of the historical value. It took us about an hour to get there, and we spent a few hours taking it all in. The camp is still setup with the fence and guard towers. They have a museum on the grounds which also offers documentaries that you can watch in various languages. We happened to arrive just in time for the English version. We sat down in the theatre and watched about all the horrible things that happened there. After the film we checked out more of the camp. There are memorials setup to see, they also have barracks you can go in and check out. The most disturbing though was the crematoriums. They had a small one that couldn't keep up with the demand, so a larger one was built. There are several memorials around it marking the thousands upon thousands of people's ashes that were buried in the area. I was also able to see the gas chamber that was made to look like showers.

The entire experience was pretty eye opening and jaw dropping. To walk around where thousands of people suffered and died was a somber experience. We headed off for home after that and drove the long drive back along the autobahn…which even when driving 100 MPH still can take quite a while.

We arrived home about 1800 and just kicked back and relaxed for the rest of the night. I watched some NCAA basketball…who knew a marriage retreat/vacation could make you so tired.

Neuschwanstein Castle:

Created with flickr slideshow.

Dachau Concentration Camp:

Created with flickr slideshow.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Spending Money - (Germany) Day 87

This morning's PT was a little bit of a run…well I can't really call it a run because we did a lot of walking during the entire process. I ran with the leader conducting PT because I wasn't sure of the route we were taking. He ran last to make sure nobody got lost and because of this we had to slow down quite a bit at times to let others stay ahead. I'm not complaining, I didn't feel like working out at all so a light jog/walk was perfect. I also found out I have a diagnostic PT test this Tuesday.

Work was in the mailroom once again. I spent the first part of the morning stamping what seemed like 5000 pieces of mail as "Undeliverable as Addressed". These were all pieces that were either not addressed correctly or the people have since left and the mail is considered junk mail. I knew a lot of mail was returned, but I was pretty amazed at just how much gets returned from a small office like ours. I can't imagine how much gets returned to senders from large post offices.

The day was uneventful. After all the stamping, I worked up at the counter doing customer service. Even though the pace was slower, time still passed by pretty quickly. I left early, a little before 1600 and headed to the shopping center to meet my wife. We purchased tickets for my kids to fly over this summer. We are pretty excited to see them for the summer, but I have to tell you 3 round trip tickets to Germany is freakin' expensive! There goes the entire tax return…but it will be well worth seeing them. I can't wait!

We also were able to schedule our bed to be delivered. We had ordered one back in January, but due to back order issues and a whole number of things it has taken forever for everything to arrive. We didn't ship our own bed from the states because we were not sure if there would be enough room in the base housing. We've been sleeping on a smaller guest bed we purchased from Ikea here up until now. It will be nice to get a larger bed that is not sitting on the floor. I will then put together both the guest bed and our bed once it arrives.

Once home we packed and prepared for our weekend trip that starts tomorrow. We'll be heading to Edelweiss lodge and resort for a marriage retreat. We get a free stay and will attend some classes in the morning each day, then have the rest of the day off to explore. I also don't have to work at all on Friday so it's a win win situation!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Postman - (Germany) Day 86

This morning's PT was muscle failure day. We actually did a lot of varying exercises. Of course we did push-ups and sit-ups, but there were others like "the fire hydrant" and "the mule kick" thrown in as well. We also did way too many overhead arm claps (kind of like a jumping jack, but only moving your arms). We basically did it past the point where I couldn't do it anymore. It was a good workout, but we got up and down so much in the muddy grass that our PT uniforms all got pretty muddy. I don't really care about getting muddy, but the problem is I had to take off my coat and lay it inside out to drive home. I also have to wash it all tonight because I only have one coat and one pair of pants. Just a minor pain in the butt.

I continued my work as a mailman today. The day started out placing 3 big stacks of the yellow parcel notice tickets in people's boxes. Once I finished that I hung out with the sergeant at the front desk until opening time at 1100. The sergeant was put here while he is being med-boarded. He was a tanker and now will serve out the rest of his days in the army as a mailman until he gets his medical discharge.

The day went similar to yesterday except for the fact that I did not give out any wrong boxes and I was also much more proficient at finding everything. Later on in the day a young high school kid joined our group and helped out. His dad (a major in the air force) told him to volunteer and then he would buy him "stuff". So far the kid said he hasn't received any "stuff" even though he's been volunteering since July. My guess is that his dad wants him to learn a work ethic. He was a nice enough kid and did a good job.

Not much exciting until the end of the day when a guy came in and handed me a parcel ticket that was about 3 weeks old. I searched for the item, but it was nowhere to be found. He wouldn't take no for an answer, so I had the high schooler double check. Still a no go. My guess is that the guy already picked it up, or it was sent back or something. Still this guy wanted to see a manager…one of the civilians came up and tried to help the guy and then finally a higher level manager as well. I don't know what the guy wanted, the package was not there and I couldn't just shit one out. Finally the upper management guy told the guy we would keep an eye out for him and he finally left.

1700 came around and I left as well. Headed home with my wife and started on schoolwork once again. I came to the conclusion that I will not be able to learn how to program java via this online class. All I'm doing is getting farther and farther behind while the class moves on. I can learn a lot of things on my own, but any programming class will have to be done in a normal classroom environment. The decision came after this last week of struggling to just keep my head above water in the class. I'll be looking into what other options I have, but will most likely switch to a different degree. Anyway right now I need to study to take my Apple recertification exam. So much to do!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Going Postal - (Germany) Day 85

This morning PT was some cardio in the gym and then a few sprints outside. Nothing major except my legs were still a little sore from the stairs and ruck march last week.

Today started my 2 weeks of working in the mailroom. Our shop rotates people to work in the mailroom for some reason. I don't really mind though because I'll be doing something I guess. I showed up and was put to work sorting mail out of big bags into slots. Each slot was for about 100 mailboxes, so it was just kind of grouping them together for people to take to the actual customer mailboxes later on. After that I sat around for a bit before being told I could go to lunch. I took my lunch in the food court and after an hour and a half headed back.

Once back in the mailroom I was then told I'd be helping customers. This process involves taking the customer's ID card and their note that states they have a parcel to pick up. I then find the parcel based on the number that is on the slip given to me. I then scan the slip, scan the card and give the customer their package. The process is fairly easy, but when it gets busy it can get a little tough. I forgot to compare the names from the ID to the package a couple times and found that I gave a box to someone who shouldn't have received it. The problem was that the parcel slip was placed in the wrong box, so the wrong person brought it up. I'll do better tomorrow.

The other parts of the job are to take boxes that come in and sort them onto shelves grouped by number. This makes it easier to find when the customer comes in. It stayed somewhat busy all day, with large waves of people coming in at times. This made the time go by really fast which was good. I won't mind doing this for the next two weeks, but it is just another one of those things that the army does which makes me scratch my head. I may sound like a broken record, but I just don't understand how the army can spend so much money training people to do a job (I.T. - a.k.a. computer geek for me) only to have them do some other menial task.

I left work and headed to the PX to pick up a couple things before heading home. I then did schoolwork and watched a couple TV shows with my wife.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up (4-Day) - (Germany) Day 81 - 84

The entrance to the Saalburg Roman Fort

Friday: I woke up this morning with my legs still extremely sore. I actually could barely walk around the house, so I'm glad I had the day off! I spent most of it with my butt planted on the couch watching the NCAA tournament. I also continued to do the only I.T. work I get to do these days…which is work on my own computers. I finally upgraded all of them to 10.7.3 and made the move to iCloud from MobileMe. This is supposed to promise better synchronization between our computers and our iOS devices. The downfall is that I cannot host my website on iCloud, which is the reason I started using WordPress for my current blogs and moved the main site to the free Google Sites. Most of the content is still there including my basic training and AIT journal. Google just doesn't allow for enough free space for all the photos I want to upload…even using Flickr, I would have run out of space too fast.

So the entire day was mainly recovery for my legs along with some I.T. work and schoolwork. The schoolwork I'm finding very tough. It's hard to learn programming from an online class. This is one of those times I wish I could attend class in a normal classroom environment with a teacher, a lecture, other students asking questions, and practice time on a lab computer.

Saturday: After sleeping in and taking the morning easy, we headed off and picked up SPC JayZ and his wife at his barracks. We then headed off to the Schwetzigen Castle. It's actually only about 20 minutes away or so from Patrick Henry Village. The castle is not so much a castle in the traditional sense. It seems more like an large fancy building than a castle. It does have a very large garden area with a number of statues and fountains (that weren't running at the time). After walking around and taking in everything I knew we'd have to come back in the spring or summer time after everything has bloomed. I'm sure the garden area looks spectacular and the fountains just add to it.

We took a tour of the castle, but unfortunately they only had tours in German. They did hand us pamphlets to read as we were on the tour that explained everything that the guide was saying in each of the rooms. It was a pretty interesting tour and it gave a lot of insight into how not only royalty lived, but also how their servants lived back in the day.

After the castle we had dinner at a Cuban restaurant outside the castle called Cubar. The food was pretty good and it was a nice way to relax a bit after walking around all day. Once finished we left and headed home after dropping off SPC JayZ and his wife. The rest of the night consisted of schoolwork and a TV show or two.

Sunday: We had pretty much the same morning as yesterday, taking our time getting ready and then heading out in the afternoon. We headed up to visit a friend of mine that I made over 20 years ago when I was an exchange student here in Germany. This guy actually came and lived with me and my family for a bit once I came back so he could experience America. Before we visited him, we headed to the Saalburg Roman Fort. This place was pretty impressive, just walking around it and thinking of all the history that took place here way back in Roman times. The fort held 500 to 600 soldiers and while everything is in German when walking around, we could still get a great idea of everything there. I had checked out the website first, so I knew a little of the history.

After that we checked out the Schloss Castle which is a castle that has been turned into a 5 star hotel. The place is very impressive, but we weren't sure if we could just walk in and check everything out or not, so we just walked around the outside taking pictures and basically just looking around.

Our next stop was Grosser Feldberg which is the highest mountain in the Taunus area. It offers a view of the surrounding area, but our time there was limited as we were pretty cold. When we left Heidelberg it was not too cold, but we should have brought our coats! We snapped a few quick pictures and then headed off to visit with my friend in Kronberg which is very close to Frankfurt. We arrived and visited for a couple hours. I'm so glad I have my GPS, I can't imagine trying to find all these places without it! We talked about the old times, the new times and the in-between times. It's crazy how much has changed over the years, but he is still a great guy and his family seems very nice as well. I'm looking forward to hanging out with him more during my stay here.

The drive back was uneventful…I still can't get over how I can be going 80-90 MPH and have people pass me like I'm standing still on the autobahn. Once home it was time for more schoolwork.

Monday: Monday was a day of rest for me. My wife had to work, so I took her into work and then came back home to do stuff like catch up on laundry and schoolwork. My legs are finally starting to feel somewhat normal now. It feels like I had a normal workout yesterday and my legs are only a little sore…nothing like the pain and agony I had been feeling with every step I took…especially when going downstairs.

My class is still pretty tough. We had the first person drop the class from our team. I don't blame her, it's very tough to learn on your own. I'm just hoping I can somehow fumble my way through it and get it over with. Programming has always been very difficult for me and I have no fantasies of actually being a programmer when I grow up.

As for pictures….I'll be sending a lot of them up to my flickr account in the next day or so…time just got away from me this weekend.

Here are the albums on my flickr: Saalburg Roman Fort & Schwetzingen Castle

Or you can check out the slide shows below:

Saalburg Roman Fort:

Created with flickr slideshow.

Schwetzingen Castle:

Created with flickr slideshow.

Friday, March 16, 2012

SwitchBack Ruck - (Germany) Day 80

The half way point of our ruck march where we are taking a break. The location is a WWI cemetery located on top of the hill. Unfortunately I didn't have time to learn anything about the place before we took off again after a short rest and regrouping

This morning's PT was a ruck march, but instead of marching around PHV we headed off from Campbell post to what they call switchback mountain. This is the same hill we went up the stairs yesterday, but instead of stairs it is a trail that switches back and forth all the way up. Another difference with this ruck march is that we accompanied HHD, which doubled the size of our group. The ruck march wasn't too bad, it was much longer than our other ruck marches and we did get to see a lot more scenery. We took a break at the half way point which was at the top of the hill at a cemetery. What I didn't like about the ruck was some pretty poor planning on the senior leaders part. We had just done the stairs twice the day before and everyone in our company was already sore, so planning a heavy leg workout two days in a row wasn't too smart. Also being a longer route, we needed much more time. They should have had us leave much earlier than our normal PT time. Instead of finishing PT at our usual time of 0720 or so, we didn't finish until almost 0900. It wouldn't have even been that bad if we were told the night before that this march would be longer than usual because we could have made arrangements. Instead my wife had to call her work and say that she was going to be late because I was unable to make it back on time. Once I got back she left and I caught a ride in with SPC Mac.

Since it's Thursday we had our sergeant's time training. There was a little controversy after our ruck march this morning. We were told that we could wear civilian clothes today if we gave a donation, but the instructor for sergeant's time training said we had to wear ACUs along with our helmet and glasses for the training. There was some grumbling and I decided it wasn't worth the hassle, so I just stayed in my ACUs all day. As far as the training goes instead of watching a PowerPoint , we headed out in the field and learned how to setup antennas. The training was a little closer to my actual MOS training, better than the usual training which seems to be all infantry type training. We did this until lunch and then headed off.

I took my sack lunch to the food court and ate. I had been eating in the office, but it seems that when you're in there even if eating lunch you can get interrupted quite a bit. So I thought it would be a good idea to start getting out of the office.

Once back at work I didn't do much. The audit was still underway which kept the NCOs busy, but we didn't have much to do. I surfed the web, then helped clean up the office and do the paperwork for the safes. We ended up passing the audit which is good. This is preparing our vault for a higher level audit that will be coming in June. I'm still trying to figure out when I can take the motorcycle class, so I can get my license to drive here in Germany. I have to work in the mailroom for the next two weeks and then the next class is while I'll be tasked out for an exercise. The next one is in June and I'm being told I may not be able to go because of the audit. That just sucks!

Everyone in the office including me was walking around pretty funny because our legs were in pain from the two days of serious leg work. This doesn't take into account that the day before the stairs we did lunges with weights. My legs were so sore I could barely walk. We did our safety brief and everyone had to make sure their POV (personal vehicle) was inspected because of the 4-day weekend coming up. We also had to drive our TMP around the post in a big circle to prove we still know how to drive it…I guess this is an annual requirement that they had to do. We were then released for the 4-day.

I watched a little NCAA March Madness and took some pain reliever…along with some wine with dinner. My legs are in so much pain with each step I take, that I can barely walk around the house. I'm thinking tomorrow will be a pretty lazy day trying to recover. I did some schoolwork and then finished the work on our desktop computer. It is now fully restored and now upgraded to OS 10.7. I'm so glad I kept good backups…that is one of those things everyone needs to do, but always puts it off.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Stairs - (Germany) Day 79

Looking down at a portion of "The Stairs"

This morning's PT was in civilian clothes. We formed up and did our usual stretching, then headed off to do "The Stairs". I had heard about the stairs before, but this would be my first time actually doing them. We jogged off post about a half mile or so until we came to the stairs. We were told we have to go up and down them twice, then jog back to the post. There were a little over 500 stairs! I walked up them at a moderate pace, but about half way up my legs were burning and I slowed my pace a bit. Nobody really passed anyone on the stairs…everyone just kept chugging along one stair at a time making their way up. We weren't expected to run them, which would be pretty incredible. The way back down was not too bad, just had to make sure not to fall. The second time back up my legs were already pretty numb, so I just methodically made my way up and then back down. I even was able to jog back to the post surprisingly. My legs felt like jello for the rest of the entire day…and I'm sure they'll feel even worse tomorrow.

At work I did the usual…surfed the internet after checking my email for anything important. I was told that I will be participating in a task for a month. Details are a little sketchy right now, but from what I've been told I'll be at another post doing actual 25B work at a help desk. It's part of some big exercise, but that is about the extent of what I know so far. I don't even know if I'll have internet access or not, so I had to pause the start of my next class just in case. Hopefully I'll get more details as it gets closer. I hear things like I'll get extra TDY pay, that I'll get an award and such, but I don't believe any of that crap anymore until I actually see it. I never get my hopes up with anything I hear from the army anymore.

After lunch the sergeant in the vault came out in a panic and had the three of us out there start calling any customers that had photocopied signatures. We had to inform them they had to come in before the close of business and sign a copy of their inventory sheet because a scanned copy is not good enough for our audit that is coming. We all started to do this and after I had contacted about 5 customers, the vault sergeant came out and said never mind. So now we look like a fool having to call the customers back and tell them never mind. Oh well.

That was the extent of my day today. I tried getting through the claims process online for my broken monitor and external hard drive, but I keep running into issue after issue. Right now I'm stuck trying to find out the inventory number of the items given by the transporter. In all the hectic mess that was going on when they came, I'm not sure where any of that paperwork is…frustrating, but lessons well learned. Keep every piece of paperwork handy…and don't lose any of it.

Once home I started the process of replacing the hard drive in my computer at home. The first 25B (I.T.) work I've done here in Germany and actually probably the most I've done in the army…that is pretty sad. I have a somewhat large setup especially with my iTunes media library, and I decided to move the library from a spanned RAID setup with 2TB of total space to my new hard drive that is 3TB. This will give me more space and will also let me mirror the two 1TB hard drives that used to be my media library to be used for the OS. This will provide redundancy in case another hard drive decides to die. Everything will also be backed up via Time Machine as it has been in the past. Copying everything took a few hours, now it's restoring the OS from my latest Time Machine backup…so I'm going to sleep.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

TMP License - (Germany) Day 78

This morning's PT was in the gym and was muscle failure day. It consisted of a number of push-ups and sit-ups. Unfortunately my stomach muscles failed a lot earlier than I would have liked them too. I'm going to have to work on that part of my body soon.

Work this morning started out at the driving center. I had to get my TMP license this morning and met up with SGT Black at the office. When I arrived she was already there and I sat down, showed my current license for Germany, then signed a few things. After that the guy handed me my TMP license. I guess we got hooked up, because there is supposed to be a small class that is supposed to be taken before getting your license. Much easier than when I was in Korea and had to take a 2 week long class before getting my TMP license.

I then headed back to the office at which point I was sent to the armory to clean my weapon. Everyone that went to the field had to eventually get over to the armory to clean their rifle. I worked on mine until lunch time. It was accepted on my third try turning it in. I cleaned it and of course each time I turned it in, the sergeant would tell me something was still dirty. Part of the problem is the tools we are given to clean the rifles with, the other part is that this guy will see a speck of dust and then hand it back to me.

I ate lunch in the office and then ended up sorting about 800 encryption cards by their serial number for the rest of the day. These were sorted at one point, but in our NCOIC's frantic search to find a missing card she scattered them everywhere. It passed the time anyway…I finished that and then had to inventory and close the safes before leaving.

I headed over to the shopping center on post to purchase a new hard drive for my computer, then headed home to eat and finish the rest of "Game of Thrones" with my wife.

Dead HD - (Germany) Day 77

This morning's PT was a run. We ran off post, but headed out the back instead of the usual run down the main street. We headed off small roads and paved trails with our sergeant having to backtrack a couple times until we found a large open paved field (like a parking lot, but without painted spaces…not sure what it's used for). Once at the field we did some sprints back and forth, then headed back to the post. It was a great workout…so great in fact that I had to walk some of the way back to post…I left it all out on the field sprinting.

The morning at work consisted of surfing the net, then eating lunch. I then was able to spend some time working on schoolwork in the afternoon at work. The only real work related thing I did was inventory the safes. Something that has to be done anytime they are opened…a long process of verifying we have everything that should be in there before we close them up.

Once home we continued watching Game of Thrones (season 1). I have my wife hooked, she's even in the process of reading the books while we watch the show. We will be all prepared for the start of season 2 coming soon!

In other news I was going to upgrade my OS to 10.7 on my main desktop computer. Right in the middle of the process my hard drive completely dies. Luckily I had everything backed up, now I just have to purchase a new replacement drive and start the process of restoring it back to it's former glory.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up - (Germany) Days 75 & 76

My wife and I at the USC Heidelberg basketball game
Saturday: Finally took the opportunity to sleep in…it's been way too long since I was able to do so. Once up and moving we didn't do a lot except stuff that needed to be done such as laundry and schoolwork. Once finished with that we did make a quick drive into Heidelberg in order to pick up some souvenirs to send to friends and family.

Sunday: Sunday we didn't do a whole lot until later on in the evening. We then picked up SPC JayZ at his barracks and then headed off to see the pro basketball team here in Heidelberg. I knew it wouldn't be anything like an NBA game because basketball is just not as popular here, but I thought it would be fun. Once we arrived at the game we purchased tickets in the 4th row (small venue) and then proceeded to purchase some sausages at the food stand. I had previously looked at the team's website and saw there were some Americans on the team, I remember it said one guy went to Texas Tech. The quality of the game seemed more like a college level…and I'm not talking quality division 1, but still fun to watch. The most interesting part was the fans and the atmosphere. The fans were crazy and were really into the game, it was a fun experience all around!

Friday, March 9, 2012

More Days of Excellence - (Germany) Day 74

This morning we did not have PT, instead we formed up in front of the library in PHV at 0800. I was able to walk there from my house in about 5 minutes or so, which was nice. We ended up forming up at about 0815 and stood in formation for about a half hour before being released into the theatre. Today we are having another "Days of Excellence", this involves PowerPoint training sessions, any announcements that need to go out to the battalion and then any awards are given out.

Once seated we listened to the battalion commander speak for a bit before our first training session which was a threat awareness training. This is an annual requirement, but I think I've had it a couple times already since I've been here. The training consists of basically telling us to be aware of our surroundings and what we put out there, whether just speaking too loud in a public area or via social networking sites. We then were given a number of historical examples of spies and terrorist attacks and told we could be put to death if we do something like the examples. To try and keep people awake and involved the briefer would give out $20 to each person that answered a question when asked.

Our next training block was from the S2 department dealing with computer security. This guy also talked about the perils of social networking as well as security incidents with classified material. Once this brief was done we moved onto a shorter brief about donating money.

By this time it was 1100 and after a short break they started giving out various awards to the battalion. There were some army achievement medals given out, some certificates of achievements and some coins. The only thing a couple people from our office received were some scrolls of appreciation for helping with the black history month presentation. Once all the awards were given to the soldiers, they took some time to give out some awards to the civilian workforce. One guy got an award celebrating his 45th year of service working for the department of the army…holy cow!

Once finished everyone left except those of us who were considered newcomers…which unfortunately I was. It was noon and everyone was getting a little hungry, we were hoping this brief would be pretty quick…but hope was lost once the battalion commander started talking. He spoke for a good 30 minutes about himself and his vision for the battalion. He also went into great detail about how we are strategic soldiers and will never be clearing rooms, but then went on to say he watched everyone during the FTX and basically said we sucked ass. Well…no shit, we're not infantry…we're computer geeks.

After the battalion commander came the first sergeant, and he spoke just as long. He had a long dramatic talk about holding our careers in our hands, how important school is, and how bad drinking is. He spoke about these three items for another 30 minutes and then started all the other shops and sections that needed to brief us. Fortunately all the rest were relatively short and we were able to leave a little after 1330 for lunch. Since I was close to home I walked home and ate. I had to call my boss to get a ride to work. Once in the office I started doing some more mandatory online training that I was told needed to get done. Unfortunately I couldn't finish the training because as I've mentioned earlier we only have three computers and I'm the lowest ranking person, so I got booted off by one of our sergeants…ironically it was the sergeant who told me I needed to get the training finished…lol.

Once off work I celebrated by having some pizza, wine and then ice cream for dessert with my wife as we watched an old season of 24 via netflix. I'm celebrating making the weigh in and also finally having a day off after working 18 days straight…I get to stay up late and sleep in!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

SMA Part Deux - (Germany) Day 73

My lunch bag. A Starbucks bag with digital cammo duct tape 
on any parts that have ripped.

PT this morning was not actually PT at all. We had our formation outside the barracks, our company has offices and the armory in the lower level of the barracks in Mark Twain Village. This morning our company was conducting 100% required weigh in. We were told that anyone that is overweight and "busts" tape (if you are overweight, your body gets measured and a formula is used to figure out your body fat percentage…you "bust tape" if you are over the limit) will get flagged immediately. Once a person is flagged they cannot do anything such as go on leave, on pass, get promoted, etc.

Even though it was a 100% for the entire company, the higher ranking individuals such as the XO and the senior NCOs went into the office and did it with the door shut. This seemed a little strange to me and also a little suspect, but I'm just a private so what do I know. I see fat NCOs all the time and wonder how the heck they even pass their PT test let alone their weight test. I wonder if they do this "closed door" weigh in as well. I'm not saying our leaders are like that, it just seemed a little strange.

After standing in alphabetical order we finally started moving after about a half an hour of just standing there. When it came my turn I came in 6 pounds under my limit for my age and height. Once finished we were allowed to leave and report back for our normal Thursday Sergeant's Time Training at 0900 back in the barracks office. I drove home and proceeded to get ready for the work day.

Our training today consisted of a bunch of people crowded into a room trying to see a PowerPoint presentation on a small computer screen. I have to say that if the company knows we have to have training every Thursday, and most of these trainings are conducted via PowerPoint that they would invest in a projector! When my boss had to do training, he brought in his flat screen TV and hooked up his personal laptop to it in order to do the training which worked well…but he shouldn't have to provide all the training equipment himself…the company should.

The actual training was over troop movement and planning operations. A bunch of typical infantry type stuff that really doesn't pertain to my job. I swear whenever the army needs to do training they always fall back on infantry type stuff instead of thinking a little outside the box and doing some training that would actually help us learn more about our jobs.

Once the training was finished it was almost lunch time, so I headed back to the office and ate my lunch. I then had to ride with my boss and a few others from 1st Platoon to "K-Town". K-Town is actually what folks around here call the Kaiserslautern army garrison. The trip was a little over an hour and we went to the theatre on post to see the Sergeant Major of the Army. He was doing a Town Hall meeting and our company needed to send a certain number of people. Since I'm the lowest ranking it's easy for them to choose me to go. I had already been to this same type of town hall meetings with the SMA while I was in Korea. This one was basically the same, going over the troop reduction, sexual harassment, and answering people's questions. One new thing added was the new ACUs that are being considered. He passed around various prototypes of new tops and bottoms that were being considered. I think they all are better than what we have now…they are getting rid of the Velcro on the sleeves and pants which never seem to work that well with the current uniform.

The meeting didn't end until 1700 and because of traffic leaving post (normal post traffic getting off work plus the surplus of traffic from the meeting, we didn't get off post for an hour). We then had to stop at Patton Barracks on the way back to fill up the TMP with gas. I didn't actually get back to my house until 2000! I then ate dinner and worked on schoolwork.

Tomorrow is Friday…looking forward to getting through that so I can enjoy a nice relaxing weekend.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

QRF Training - (Germany) Day 72

This morning I showed up to PT in my ACUs. I have training at 0800, so I just had to show up and be accounted for. I then had to go to the armory and pick up my weapon, then take it to our office to drop off. Once finished I headed home and ate a quick breakfast, grabbed my coffee and left to the theatre here on PHV. The training was supposed to start at 0800, but because there were some late arrivals…it started at 0900.

Today's training was all about security of our post. Once I go through this training I'll be certified to be part of what is called "QRF" (Quick Reaction Force) detail. When picked to be on this detail there is only one plus side…you are exempt from staff duty for the month. The drawbacks are that you have to have your full battle rattle ready to go for the entire month. When called for duty, you have to wear all that crap and stand at one of the gates with your rifle as a "show of force". I'm told the people on this detail do not do anything all day except stand at the gate all day long. The contracted security guards still do all the checking of IDs and searching of vehicles. Not something I really want to do, but then again…I wasn't asked if I wanted to or not.

The morning session of the class was all PowerPoint slides and especially during the first portion with the lights off, I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. Thankfully they had a quick break and left the lights on after that. The slides went over the various levels of escalating force that can be used and when to use them. He also stated what not to do while on duty such as take your helmet off and spin it on the ground, breakdance, or play air guitar with your rifle. These are all incidents that were caught on video (all gates have video) and people got into trouble with. In fact he said the air guitar player was an E7 and got demoted to E6 after that one. We then broke for lunch and I headed home. I'm glad this training was on PHV, because I could just walk home.

The second part of the training was in full battle rattle. I had to call my office and have them transport my rifle out to me. We are not allowed to take any weapons in our own cars, so the office had to bring it over in the TMP. Once there we all gathered around an MP car parked in a field. The MP then showed everyone how to conduct a proper search. We broke up into teams of 5 and practiced doing a search. The first team did fine, it was only the driver in the car. Each time afterward with each team it got harder and harder. They added more people to the car and also more attitude. By the time my team had it's turn, the guy in the passenger seat got out, put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a grenade! It took me a minute to register what was going on, then I hesitated to raise my rifle and point it at him. I've had it beat into my head never to point our rifle at anyone…muzzle awareness has been drilled into my head since basic. So even after raising my weapon at him, I was waiting for the instructor to start yelling at me for doing so. It turns out I reacted too late and everyone got blown up. I was definitely surprised and it was meant to show everyone how crazy things can get in a split second. This scenario was actually based on an actual event I guess from Ft. Bragg.

We waited for another group to go and finish, then the class was over. I rode back with HHD in their TMP and dropped off my weapon at the armory. Unfortunately it was not open, but the sergeant in the next office told me to leave my weapon with him. I didn't feel too comfortable leaving it there because I had signed out for it, but I really had no other choice unless I wanted to sit there for the rest of the day. So I left it with him and headed back to the office.

Once in the office I helped out a guy add some items we received to the safe. This is a big deal because everything has to be annotated and all paperwork has to be perfect. We have to sign and stamp each item and make note of when the safe was opened etc. Lots of paperwork and detail go into anything that is done when dealing with ComSec.

We then headed home and I did some homework. I'm not too excited about this class "Java Programming". I get the idea of programming in general, but when I try to learn it or read about it, my brain just goes numb. This will be a challenging class indeed. Let's just hope I can get by with a passing grade. We then sat back and watched some shows, then turned in for the night.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More Inventory - (Germany) Day 71

Our morning PT run off post. I try to use the runkeeper program on my phone
 to keep track of the distance and routes we take...awesome app!

PT this morning was a pretty good run. We ran off post while in our army pt uniform, which is a little odd…but now that the alert status has lifted I guess it's OK to do now. We didn't run a fast pace, but we did run farther than usual. I'm so out of shape that it did tire me out quite a bit. We only had 4 people total end up doing the run. There was a PT test today and people were either doing that, helping with that (i.e. road guards), or they had profiles or appointments.

Work was a little busier than normal, which I was thankful for. I helped out my boss inventory items. Pretty much the same thing I did back in Korea a lot before one of my sergeants PCS'd. Any hand receipt holder has to make sure everything they have signed for is still around and we have to physically see the item. We also updated a spreadsheet with additional information about each item. Not a big deal, but it did keep me busy.

I also found out that we will not be seeing the sergeant major of the army today (that is Thursday), instead the sergeant major of our battalion may be coming by. It turned out that all senior NCOs ended up having to go meet with him instead of him wandering around to all the shops. Our NCOIC ended up spending the entire afternoon listening to him brief everyone…she wasn't too happy.

For lunch we had a farewell lunch for one of the guys in on the maintenance side of our shop. We ate at a Chinese buffet about 10 minutes or so from the office. He was given an award and a plaque which was nice. He's a pretty nice dude and I wish him the best of luck on his next assignment.

After lunch we continued to inventory items and did so until it was time to leave. One of the guys in the office said I'm going to have to start learning more about ComSec and I agreed. I told him the only way I'm going to retain anything is by actually doing the job, but there has been nothing to do lately. We are going to have most of the office leaving by the end of June and if we don't get anymore soldiers, then I'm going to end up being a pretty busy guy. I don't mind being busy, but ComSec is one thing where you can't mess up…and busy times are when people make mistakes. A serious mistake in the ComSec world and one can find themselves actually in jail. So hopefully I'll get some good training in before then and feel comfortable by the time everyone leaves.

After work I headed home and hung out with my wife. I started school again today with a Java Programing class. I'm glad to be back in class and continuing my progress to get my bachelors degree…one step at a time.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Playing Operator - (Germany) Day 70

PT this morning was a little strange. We started to head off for PRT in the racket ball court, but our NCOIC came in at the last second and told us to head to the gym, we're going to work out with the HHD company today. Once there we ended up doing P90X. There was a laptop hooked up to a projector with little speakers on it. Everyone was already started and we fell in the back of the formation and started along with them. I give it a big thumbs down…not because I think P90X is stupid, but because all these exercises were new, so I would end up watching the video for about half the exercise to see what the heck they were doing. I couldn't hear anything from the tiny little speakers. A lot of the workouts put me in strange positions that I just couldn't do, so the entire workout was a bit of a joke. I do think if P90X is done correctly, you would probably be getting a great workout though!

At work it was just me and SGT Black in the main part of the office. Everyone else either had appointments, or they were getting their 4-day that they missed because of the FTX. I ended up doing nothing except surf the web in a limited capacity and answer the phone when it rang. When I say surfed in a limited capacity, I mean the powers that be have blocked quite a few sites, some of them even army related sites. I'm not sure why, but now we cannot access much of anything. Luckily Yahoo News still worked and I was able to read the news.

Being the lowest ranking person in the shop, I knew I would end up getting tasked out to do stuff. It's happened a little before…someone will let our NCOIC know that they need a certain number of people for either a detail, or just bodies in an audience. I found out this week is going to be full of such events. Tomorrow I will again see the SGM of the Army for a town hall meeting. I did this once while I was in Korea as well. We got to hear him tell everyone how the army will be trimming the fat, how he doesn't like tattoos, and how he wants the PT test to be tougher…such as adding a 12 mile ruck march to it. I can't wait to hear it all again...LOL. I also found out I'll be attending some sort of training on Wednesday that requires me to have my full battle rattle…WTF? Friday I will attend some newcomer training since I'm fairly new. Yay me. At least I will have the weekend off. I can't wait for it…and it's only Monday!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up - (Germany) Days 68 & 69

A sign in the S-3 bathroom (the shop where we pull staff duty) 

Saturday: (Staff Duty) So I am pulling my first staff duty assignment since being in Germany. Usually you get one or so a month and unfortunately I am getting mine on a Saturday. On a Saturday after I've just been in the field for the last week. On a Saturday when I've previously worked 12 days in a row without a day off. So This will make it 13 straight with my only "day off" tomorrow, which doesn't really count because I'll be working until 0900 tomorrow morning. So I'll be sleeping for part of it, then have to go back to work again like normal on Monday. A pretty crappy deal if you ask me.

I started the shift this morning at 0830. I found out technically we don't have to be here until 0900, but my platoon sergeant told me 0830, so that is when I arrived. Staff duty consists of sitting at a computer desk and answering the phone if it rings. We have to do a security check of the TMP vehicle and a couple buildings, once before midnight and once after midnight. I'm working with a female sergeant from our office (I'll call SGT Black). SGT Black does ComSec work like me, but is also the retention NCO for our company, so that ties up most of her time.

I spent most of the morning typing up this journal for everything I wrote down during the exercise. I ate lunch at the desk and then did half of the "before midnight" security checks. Once finished it was 1400 and SGT Black said to go ahead and take a break until 1700. I headed home and hung out with my wife for a bit, then headed back. When I got back she said I should have stayed until 1800, then swore up and down she told me 1800. Oh well…I'm back and I was not late.

Staff Duty on the weekend is not too busy. We've had a couple of calls and one soldier who needed a ride back to Patton Barracks after his shift here at Campbell Barracks. SGT Black gave him a ride while I held down the fort.

I watched the movie Thirteen Days on my laptop. The movie has Kevin Costner in it and is about the Cuban Missile Crises and how close we actually came to war with Russia. It was a pretty good movie if you could get past those horrible north-eastern accents.

At 2030 SGT Black let me take another break until 2300, so I headed home and was able to watch the University of Washington Huskies basketball team actually play a game. I don't think I've seen them play since I joined the army! Unfortunately they lost by one point to UCLA.

The rest of the night was pretty uneventful. I listened to music, read the news via the web, and answered a few phone calls. I ended up watching "SWAT Firefight" which was a decent movie…in fact I would say it is a little better than your average B movie…a B+ movie. It passed the time and was entertaining. I nodded off for a few minutes here and there and then finally at 0830 the runner came in and relieved me.

Sunday: After I went home I took about a 4 hour nap on our couch. I tossed around the idea of staying up, but as soon as I laid down..I was out. When I did get up, I did some regular maintenance on all our home computers. This is something I used to do on a regular basis every month, but I've been out of sync since joining the army. I plan on getting back to keeping everything optimal now that all our computers are together again. I also spent some time doing and filing our taxes. I'm glad that is done and out of the way.

We didn't do much the rest of the day, SPC Whirlwind and his wife came by for a couple hours to visit. They are going to the US on vacation. SPC Whirlwind took 30 days total, but doesn't plan on spending it all in the US. He's going to travel space A, so I'm looking forward to see how that works out for him.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Landscaping Day - (Germany) Day 67

Our work call this morning was at 1000 to give us a little recovery time from the FTX. Once we arrived to work, we heard there is a chance the sergeant major of the army may be coming to our post. What does this mean? It means that me and SPC Matrix were chosen to help out the battalion with a detail. We headed over and found out that we would be raking leaves and sweeping the sidewalk. There are leaves everywhere and a sidewalk that goes on for what seems like miles. SPC Matrix starts raking leaves and I start sweeping the sidewalk. We break for lunch at 1130, I head to my car and listen to the radio while eating.

At 1300 we have to report back to battalion. The NCO looks over our work and then tells us he wants the sign washed and all these tiny leaves picked out from various areas. SPC Matrix was a little pissed. He felt like this is something that should usually be given to people assigned with extra duty (people in trouble). It wasn't too bad though once we started, we did it and finished it pretty quickly and then we were done with the day's detail. Unfortunately my hands aren't used to manual labor…I'm a computer geek you know…I developed a blister….grrrr.

Once back at the office we were released at 1500 after given a safety brief and turning in our weekend checklist. Mine basically said I'm staying at home all weekend because I have staff duty tomorrow. I then headed over to pick up my wife from work and we headed home for a relaxing night.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lightning Warrior Field Training Exercise Day 7 - (Germany) Day 66

Me posing with the "Gut Truck" owner. I thought his shirt was pretty funny :)

We had an early wake up this morning at 0510…why so early you may be asking yourself, because I was wondering the same thing. We had to get ready and get everything packed and put outside the barracks by 0700. No problem…I still don't think we had to get up so early…especially when the DFAC wasn't even open anymore.

0700: Out of the barracks with all our bags lined up outside. We clean the inside of the barracks. Take out the garbage, sweep and mop.

0730: Barracks inspected by a CPT and then we are locked out.

We're told the bus should be coming at 0930…it's cold. The gut truck comes and we go order some pastries. He gets so many requests for coffee, he quickly drives off in another car to fetch some, while his wife works the grill serving up brats and steak sandwiches along with the pastries. An hour passes before he comes back and I'm still there waiting. He gives away the coffee for free which is awesome. I enjoy a nice cup of Joe and then wait back outside the barracks.

0900: Everyone lines up and does a police call around the barracks area. We continue waiting for the bus.

1100: The bus finally comes, we load up and head out finally. It's good to be inside and warm again.

1211: The bus gets pulled over by the Polizei. The driver was going too fast on the autobahn. Yes…there are places you can go too fast…especially if you are a semi or a bus!

1430: We finally arrive back in Heidelberg after missing the first exit. We unload our equipment and then put it in the office before heading over to turn in our weapons to the armory.

1600: My wife comes and picks me up and I'm off for the rest of the day. It's so nice to be back home with my wife once again!!!

So my final thoughts of the exercise…I think it was a huge waste of my time. It's really pointless for them to send us out to the field to train on infantry type stuff. If they end up putting me…a computer geek out on foot patrols and breaking down doors to take rooms, I think we should just give up whatever conflict we're in. It just doesn't make sense. The army has all kinds of infantry soldiers who's job it is to do this kind of stuff. These soldiers train for this all the time…it's what they do. Why on earth would the army send a computer geek into this kind of stuff? Why do we do field exercises training for this kind of stuff? If they want us to do a field training exercise, then have us setup computers and a network out in the field. Have us try and communicate with headquarters. Have us actually train to do our job in the field. Does the army only know how to do field exercises that involve infantry work?

A sign on the bathroom door during the FTX

Yes...the police pulled over our bus in their mini-van...LOL