Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween - (Germany) Day 309

Graffiti on the bathroom wall in the food court...there was also
strangely enough some algebra equations as well that I almost took
a photo of.

This morning for PT we had a PT test, which meant it was at Campbell Barracks, and we had to be there at 0600 instead of our normal 0630 PT time. I arrived along with everyone else and we assembled in the gym. My current profile prohibits me from doing anything in the PT test. I plan to have that changed once everything is figured out, but until then the only thing I'm allowed to do is work out with weights and use the stationary bike. So I basically stood around and watched everyone. I held a couple people's feet on the sit-up portion and encouraged people on the run. I then went and watched people get their height measured, then weighed. I think my normal workout would have been a little more productive, but such is life. I'm sure I'll be on the list to take the PT test each month until I can actually take one. One surprising thing was that SGT Mex did not pass the tape. He was on the overweight program and after 3 months was able to get off, but is now back on it. According to the regulations he will now be discharged from the army. We'll see what happens.

At work it seemed as though I was never in one spot for too long. Every time I sat down at a computer and started doing my schoolwork, someone else needed to use it. I must have moved about 6 times throughout the day, when I was able to get a spot at a computer. I was able to finish most of my schoolwork before lunch, which I took as usual in my car along with music, my book, and a nap.

Back in the office after lunch I was able to finish my schoolwork. I then contact a couple of my customers to remind them about destructions for their ComSec material as well as schedule some dates for their required briefings. After that it was just a lot of web surfing. The maintenance side of the office is already in high gear, getting prepared to close down their side of the shop. They have already turned back in all their maintenance equipment a while ago, but now they are going through all the old manuals and shelves full of material and shredding it all. They used the shredder the entire day and filled up 3 very large garbage bags full of very fine paper dust. They used the shredder so much, I think they broke it. We have destructions tomorrow, so I'm hoping that they can get it fixed before then…they are the maintenance shop, so I'm hoping they can figure something out.

Today is Halloween and in the army stationed away from home, it's just another day. In my past I've always had a lot of fun at the workplace dressing up. Usually our entire department would pick a theme and all run with it. Since joining the army, all I've ever dressed up as is a soldier. This being my first time in family housing, I thought we would get a bunch of trick or treaters, but I found out that they do not visit the stairwell housing. They only head to the officer's I hear they block the streets and the kids make out like bandits. I guess I'll have to eat all the candy we bought for them…LOL.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Getting Counseled - (Germany) Day 308

A picture I took on the way to work. I hear fall cleanup is coming soon
and we have a lot of trees that loose their leaves on PHV!

This morning for PT we formed up for accountability, then stretched for about 3 minutes before being released. Because everyone in the formation has a PT test tomorrow, they didn't want to do any sort of a workout. I'm not gonna complain, I was able to spend some extra time with my wife this morning and get ready at a leisurely pace.

At work this morning we were all told to "scrub" our folders. Scrubbing our folders includes taking each of our customer's folders and checking all the paperwork in them. We have to make sure they are all up to date on their briefings and everything else is in order. I spent most of the morning going through mine and contacting the people that need to get their briefings updated. There were a couple other minor issues, so I documented everything and then filed them all away. I then had to add some more ComSec inventory to a safe. Of course once a safe is opened, we had to take a full inventory of the thing.

I headed home for lunch again today, not to run any errands, but because we had some good leftovers I wanted to eat! Back at the office I spent the rest of the afternoon surfing the web. The megastorm "Sandy" is dominating the news as it pounds the east coast. Usually I don't look at job postings, but just for the heck of it I checked out some, it's good to know what kind of qualifications they are looking for, so I can make sure to be ready by the time I get out.

We cleaned up around 1630 and while we were waiting to be released, I was called back into the vault. The new NCO was told to give me my monthly counseling. My boss is still on leave and everyone in the office needs a monthly counseling. It doesn't matter if it's a quality counseling, it just needs to be done. So this NCO that doesn't know me at all has to give me a counseling for a month of work, and he doesn't know a thing about me really. He has me sit with him in the vault and starts talking to me to try and get to know me a little. He basically has to get enough information from me, so he can write up a counseling statement. We chatted until 1700, then he released me…everyone else had left earlier. I couldn't care less about the counseling, for others it lets them know their strengths and weaknesses. It gives them a course of action to improve and a path to strive for to become a leader and an NCO. I played along and let him give me the pep talk. This is just another one of those things that are making sure a box is checked so everyone's happy, just like all the crappy army training we are required to do.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Full House - (Germany) Day 307

We are getting into the Halloween spirit with our
big scary spider on the front of our door.

This morning for PT it was freakin' cold, and thankfully we were allowed to keep on all our full winter PTs. I had to spend an extra 5 minutes scraping all the ice from the windows before heading off to the formation. Anyways the normal folks I assume did a light workout, while those of us on profile headed to the gym to do our workout. I can't say for sure what they did, but I know they were all gone by the time I was finished with my cardio workout.

Today we had almost everyone back from classes and leave, only my boss is still out on leave. This of course meant a lot of people are back in the office. I immediately headed to the maintenance side of the office and hopped on the only remaining computer for the morning. I was able to do all my required schoolwork before lunch, so I felt like I got something actually accomplished!

Instead of the norm, I headed home for lunch. We had some packages to mail and with the post closing, there has been a lot of rearranging and consolidation. The post offices are the latest to consolidate, and now instead of offices available on each of the posts, we only have one on PHV. It used to be pretty easy to mail out a package, but now lunch time is pretty much the only time that it can be done…the place closes for outgoing mail by the time I get off work and get home on a normal day. So I head into the new and improved post office with my two packages in hand only to find a line almost to the door and only one service window out of 4 opened…government efficiency at it's finest. I quickly turned around and just headed to my house to eat lunch. I swung by there on the way out and luckily there was no line and they actually had 2 windows open…the packages have been sent!

When I arrived back at the office more of the folks from the maintenance side of the office were in, so no open computers. No worries, I slowly read the latest issue of "Army Times" someone had left over there. I say slowly because I had to do something to try and keep me busy until we left for the day. Needless to say the newspaper wasn't enough to do so. I stared at the wall, wandered around in circles, went pee, made small talk with SPC Mac…I'm going to go insane. At one point a little after 1530 we were told to clean up, so we all cleaned up and waited to be released. We waited…and waited…and sat there looking at each other until 1700 before we were finally released. All I can do is hope wherever I get sent after Heidelberg is better than it is now.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up (Burg Frankenstein) - (Germany) Day 305 & 306

The moon and the clouds made for a picturesque night at Frankenstein Castle

Saturday: After the concert last night, I ended up sleeping in until 1030! Holy Cow!! Anyways the day didn't have a lot going on, just lounging around and watching TV until about 1600 when we decided to get ready for our Halloween trip to "Burg Frankenstein" (Frankenstein's Castle). We purchased tickets through MWR and left at 1730.

We had a few other people from the office go on the trip as well, so it was pretty fun. The castle is about 45 minutes away and they put on a big Halloween event each year. I had heard that it was pretty cool, so I wanted to make sure to go this year. The bus dropped us off at the entrance and as we made our way out of the bus we found there was snow all over the ground. It was going to be a cold night. We made our way up to the entrance of the castle and after getting searched for unauthorized items, we made our way in. The first stop was to get some food. The place had a number of spots to eat, we chose to get some bratwurst and fries…along with an adult hot cocoa. 

After all the hype, I think we were a little disappointed with the entire event. I think part of the problem may have been how cold it was, being that everything is outside. We made a tour of the entire castle and the scenery was pretty cool. There were also some great costumes worn by the actors. One thing that was very surprising was how the "monsters" walking around would grab you, or smack your butt. I saw a few people even get picked up and carried off! I think everyone would have enjoyed everything a lot more, but we were all just too cold. We ended up getting some hot wine drinks to warm us up a bit. The first one tasted like hot liquid cherry pie and the second tasted like hot liquid apple pie. They were both amazing and did warm us up a bit. We then spent the night by a fire pit trying to stay warm. Like I said, I think it would have been more fun if it wasn't so cold. They had some shows on the stage with monsters dancing and stuff, but we were too cold to leave the fire. Even with the cold, I was glad we made the trip…I just wish the bus would have come back earlier than midnight. I think 2 to 3 hours would have been plenty of time to see everything and have a good time.

Sunday: Time fell back an hour last night, so we got a little extra sleep. We basically just spent the day chilling at the house. Besides a quick grocery run and some clean up while doing laundry, we just relaxed and watched TV. I was able to fit in a little schoolwork and then called it a day. Not a whole lot going on except trying to mentally prepare myself for another week of work.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Die Ärzte - (Germany) Day 304

In the crowd at Die Ärzte concert...unfortunately the iPhone is not
the best camera to use at the concert.

This morning for PT we formed up at the middle school instead of the bowling alley parking lot. This was because the normal folks used the track to do 60/120s. This is 60 seconds of sprinting, then 120 seconds of walking. Those of us on profile got in our cars and drove to the gym. As I drove by my house I had to fight the urge to just go back home and get back in bed…LOL…just kidding. I ended up working out on the weight machines and had a great workout.
When I arrived at the office I found out it was going to be just the CAM, me and our new private (PV2 Ski). I spent the time surfing the web for a bit, then doing a SkillPort. Me and PV2 Ski then had to add some ComSec to one of the safes. Of course once a safe is opened we had to do a full inventory. After that I headed to lunch in my car as usual, then came back to the office.
PV2 Ski was told he could leave after lunch, his mother is here visiting. This left just me and the CAM for the afternoon. We had one customer come in for a scheduled appointment to pick up his keys. I did my part getting all the paperwork ready. Our CAM loaded the keys onto his device, then I had him sign in all the right places. Once that was done I cleaned up the office and we both left for the day at around 1400. Not a bad way to end a Friday.
Tonight I had plans, so I was happy to get off early. I went home, changed, then picked up my wife from work. We had dinner and then took off to the Europahalle in the city of Karlsruhe which is about 40 minutes away. I purchased tickets a while back to see the German punk band "Die Ärzte" and tonight is the night to see them live. This night has been over 20 years in the making. I first heard of die Ärzte (translated…"the doctors") way back when I came to Germany as an exchange student over 20 years ago. I've listened to their music ever since and try to keep up with all their new releases. I was surprised to find out that even after all this time, they are still touring and coming out with new music!
We drove to Europahalle after putting in the coordinates in our GPS and after arriving we quickly found out that all the parking at the event center was full. We were directed to head off in another direction. Luckily we came across a parking garage not too far away and quickly found a spot. Getting into the event was easy enough. I was really surprised at what I saw in the crowd. I was expecting everyone to be as old as myself or older considering how long the band has been around, but instead found a wide diversity of people there. The place was packed and filled with everything from pre-teens all the way to folks older than myself. Being a concert in Germany of course they sold a lot of beer. It seemed everywhere I looked someone was walking around with a big plastic mug of beer. The concert itself was great. Die Ärzte put on a great show. They played for 3 hours, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I heard a lot of the old songs I've listened to for years along with new ones I haven't heard of yet. They were full of energy and the crowd seemed to eat them up.
After the show we headed back to the parking garage through the rain. The line to pay for the ticket was a bit out of control, but after paying my 3 Euros we were good to go. We got home about midnight and then went to bed without setting the alarm…that is always a great feeling!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A New Class - (Germany) Day 303

On a walk home on PHV I saw this very tiny car pulling out in
front of the

This morning for PT everyone who was not on profile headed to Landstuhl at 0500 for a combination PT and sergeant's time training of combatives. I am glad that I'm currently on profile, I just showed up as normal at 0630 for PT and headed to the gym after accountability. Don't get me wrong, I thought combatives were fun earlier before I was injured, but why we had to form up so early and head to Landstuhl is beyond me. Anyways with my neck the way it is, I wouldn't have been able to do any of it, and if I did try I would have been in some major pain.

So it was just me and our CAM in the office today for the morning anyways. I did some major web surfing, or as I say "doing some MOS research" (reading technology articles). Our platoon sergeant came by at one point right before lunch and asked when I was going to get off temporary profile and get a permanent profile. He said as soon as I get a permanent profile he can send me to WLC (Warrior Leader Course). I think he has some sort of quota or something to fill. I talked to our CAM about it a little later. I let her know I have no desire to attend WLC. It's basically a month long course that is a little like basic training where they prepare you to become an NCO. I let our CAM know that all I see it as is a month away from my wife. I figure I've already been away from her a year in Korea, 6 months in AIT, and 9 weeks in basic. I've been away enough. WLC should be for people that want to advance their career and become an NCO, not a quota that has to be filled. That had me pretty pissed off for a bit. I'm definitely in no hurry to make my temporary profile a permanent one now. I know that if I fail a required PT test before WLC, that I will not be allowed to go…but I don't know if I can purposely fail a PT test. I guess I'll deal with it when the time comes.

I headed to my car as usual for lunch…music, food, book, and nap. When I headed back into the office everyone was back from training in Landstuhl, so of course the computers were all taken. I headed to the maintenance side of the office and was able to find a lone computer not being used. I logged on and was able to start doing schoolwork for my new class. I felt like I got something done, the first chapter down. The class is on business management and looks like it may be pretty good. It will be nice to make use of my time while at work. If I can get all my schoolwork done while I'm there, I won't have to worry about doing it when I get back home during the night.

Another benefit to working on the maintenance side of the office…I don't have to answer the phone, get called back to do random crap, or open the door when someone buzzes. I may end up over here more often…I can get a lot more done with no interruptions!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

SRP - (Germany) Day 302

A photo of SRP (Soldier Readiness Processing) at Campbell Barracks
Each station had a number of chairs to sit and wait for your turn
It's still pretty early, so there were not a lot of people there yet.

This morning we did not have PT, instead we had to be at the office at 0730 for SRP. Our CAM ended up giving me a ride in because of the early time, this way my wife would be able to use the car and drive to work at her normal time. We arrived and then then ended up going over to a large ball room on post for SRP. I had to look the acronym up, the army loves it's acronyms and throw them around as if everyone knows them all. SRP stands for "Soldier Readiness Processing". This is usually for units that are getting ready to deploy to make sure everyone is up to date on all their personnel paperwork as well as their medical. We are a strategic unit and do not deploy, so why we are doing this is unknown. I guess they just wanted to try and get everyone up to date on everything all at once.

So I sat down at the first station which is our S-1 shop…I waited there about an hour before it was my turn. After showing our dog tags and ID card, we made sure our life insurance and beneficiaries were up to date. From there I moved to dental, medical, ACAP, ACS, and then finance. I'm up to date on everything, so I turned in my paperwork and went back to the office. I guess this is mainly for those who let things slide. They had stations setup to do eye testing, give immunizations and so on, so they can get it all done in one place.

The rest of the morning was spent surfing the web until lunch. I ate lunch over in the food court since I didn't have my car, then headed back to the office. The one good thing about having people on leave and in classes, is that there are computers available for everyone. I surfed the web, did a SkillPort, and chatted with our CAM. There are a lot of rumors going around about where we will be heading once Heidelberg closes. The most common ones are we will head to Wiesbaden or Landstuhl. It changes almost daily, so it's really not worth stressing about right now, although it would be nice to know something for sure in order to make plans.

I'll have to bring my textbook to the office tomorrow, my class officially starts…now I can use some of this spare time to study. Maybe I'll feel like I'm getting something done. We did actually have some ComSec material come in, so we had to inventory it and add it to the safe, but that was about it for the day.

They had me drive a TMP back to PHV, but the sergeant who was supposed to get the key from me for the morning never showed up. I tried to contact him, but he never responded. I guess I'll find out tomorrow what they needed it here for.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Big Mistake - (Germany) Day 301

The JAG office on Campbell Barracks during this fall season

This morning for PT we all ended up heading to the gym. I worked out on the machines for my core and arms. It turned out to be a pretty good workout. It's starting to feel a little like the workouts I did in Korea, when I did everything on my own in the gym. It's nice to not deal with any of the nonsense and just hit the gym and get a workout.

At work it was just me and SPC JayZ there…at least for lower enlisted. I had a customer come in to pick up his encryption keys, so I did my part which is just updating his paperwork and making sure he signs it in all the right places. Our CAM downloaded his key onto his device. After the customer left the door buzzer went off and I opened the door and let in an officer. I asked who he was here to see…he said our CAM, so I headed off to get her. What I didn't realize was that he was our new company commander…and when the commander comes into the office, you're supposed to call the shop to attention. Big mistake on my part. The commander didn't say anything, but I got a couple stern WTFs from our NCOs after the event. I knew that name looked familiar when he came in. The problem is that this is the first time I've even seen the guy. This wasn't a thing we did in Korea my whole time there, and because the company headquarters is in Landstuhl…we just don't see the company commander here in Heidelberg too often. My bad…It's just another one of those things that remind me why I want to get out of the army. All the stupid other crap besides your job that you have to deal with. I just want to go and do my job. I do feel like an idiot for not calling the shop to attention, but there's not much I can do now. I guess it won't happen again…unless we get a new commander…LOL.

I decided to hang out with SPC Mac for a bit on the other side of the office. He's all about spending most of everyday sending out resumes and preparing to get out of the army. Especially because of stupid stuff like what he has to deal with tomorrow. He has staff duty tonight, then is required to go to something called SRP tomorrow afterwards. I'm not sure what exactly SRP is, but I hear it takes a while, I will find out tomorrow when I go. The problem is that he will have been working already for 24 hours, then have to attend the SRP.

I headed to lunch in my car, read my book, listened to music and took a nap…the usual. I then headed back to the office and did the paperwork for another customer that came in to pick up his key. Not my customer, but because everyone else is in class, we all help out with each other. The rest of the day I spent the time knocking off a SkillPort, then surfed the web. I did help modify a couple documents for our CAM, but nothing major.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bitch Session - (Germany) Day 300

The front of Campbell Barracks. Before the U.S. took over the post, it was
controlled by the Nazis. There are two Nazi Eagles a the front gate (one is pictured
here on the right). I've read that under the emblem you see now there is still a swastika!

This morning for PT we formed up in civilian clothes. The normal folks did a run off post, while those of us on profile headed to the gym. I rode the stationary bike to get my cardio in and had a pretty good workout.

I headed to work for the normal 0900 work call. There are only three of us on our side of the office because of class, details, and such. I did the usual, checked my email and surfed the web a bit. The E4s and below in the battalion then had to attend a "sensing session" which is also known as a bitch session. This is where they gather everyone together in a room and take notes on everyone's complaints.

They take general complaints, then ask certain questions and get responses. They are not all bad, but most of it is actually a bitch session. I don't say much because it seems that nothing ever changes. They are supposed to report the findings to the command, but everything stays the same…over and over. So I sat there with my coffee and just listened. They asked about our current supervisors, our training, our chaplain and more. I did speak up on one point when it came to leaves and passes. We are required to submit so much paperwork for a leave or pass and then have to wait way too long to get a response. We always see commercials and hear that we need to go out and see Europe while we're here, but it's tough to purchase anything before we find out if our leave or pass has been approved. I've seen people wait and watch prices climb higher and higher as each week goes by while they are waiting for their pass. Or as in my case, buy the tickets anyway in hopes that the pass will be approved only to find out that I had to attend a class at the last minute.

After the bitch session it was time for lunch, so I headed off to the car as usual and read my book, listened to music and took a nap. I'm still on book three of "The Game of Thrones" series. It's so good, I want to read it all…but I also don't want it to end, so I take my time.

After lunch I headed into the office and did a SkillPort so I can add more hours to my CompTia continuing education credits. I then surfed the web for a bit until SPC JayZ left for the day. He has QRF detail (guarding a gate) and had to leave for that. This left just me and our CAM on our side of the office. The time flew by pretty fast because I quickly became her secretary for the rest of the day. I was scheduling and rescheduling appointments with our customers, modifying word documents, scanning documents and emailing them to customers. Before I knew it, it was already 1630 and time to start cleaning up and doing the paperwork for each safe. Once that was done I was cleared to leave. I don't mind being busy, it makes the day go by fast and I feel like I got something accomplished.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up (Staff Duty) - (Germany) Day 298 & 299

In the staff duty bathroom...the 43rd Signal Battalion
takes safety 1st!

Saturday: As I've mentioned before I put on my uniform and get ready for work each morning feeling demotivated and perhaps even a little depressed. I did so this morning and felt it twice as bad, because I have staff duty on a Saturday. This is the worst day to have staff duty because it totally ruins your weekend. In fact because you work all day Saturday, then 9 hours on Sunday, you end up working 12 days straight. When I'm at work each day, I'm usually counting down the days until the weekend comes…but not this week.

I headed in to staff duty a little before 0900 and started my shift with an NCO from our shop. Luckily I had the latest UFC (153) on my portable hard drive, so I spent the morning watching that. Not only were there some great fights, but it also took up the entire morning until lunch time…so time went by pretty quick. The NCO I am working with (SGT T), told me I could take my lunch break from 1300 to 1600. I headed home and had lunch with my wife and watched a couple shows. The break was nice and I enjoyed the time at home.

Back at staff duty I did the usual alternating between, reading my book, surfing the web, and listening to music. The phone doesn't ring, we just sit here trying to pass the time. It's a total waste of my life that I will never get back.

I was given my dinner break at 2000 until 2230. I headed home and spent some more time with my wife. I'm thankful that I do at least get these couple of breaks. I headed back and then decided to watch "Disturbia", a great thriller movie. Once that had finished I listened to music in my chair and kind of zoned out. I wasn't quite asleep, but not quite awake. I did this for a while until SGT T got up and went to the other room saying he had to take a nap. Now I have to make sure I stay awake. I may trade places with him when he comes back.

There has been talk of our future slots when Heidelberg closes. There are a number of slots for the ComSec vault in Wiesbaden for sure, but I haven't heard much else. The flow of information hasn't been very forthcoming, the only reason I've heard what I've heard is because I happened to be in the vault while the platoon sergeant and our CAM where talking about it. Some people will have the option for curtailment (leaving back to the states early). I still have a lot I want to see while I'm here in Europe, so I am hoping I don't have to head back. I try and go over all the scenarios in my head…Wiesbaden, Landstuhl, or the states, but it's kind of pointless until it actually happens. So much can change at the last minute in the army. I even thought for a minute about reenlisting when my time came if I could get Hawaii, but then I came to my senses and slapped myself. I'll be getting out when my contract is up and become a civilian once again…back to the normal life (and common sense).

Sunday: This morning started with me still at staff duty. Staff duty lasted until 0900 in the morning, and I spent that time wondering why oh why do we have to do this stupid crap. Why not issue a "staff duty" cell phone to an NCO and rotate it around? No…I sat in my chair, reading my book and surfing the web for a bit, but spent most of the morning listening to music and drifting off in and out of sleep. An office chair isn't the most comfortable chair to sleep in, but when you're that tired, you'll pretty much fall asleep anywhere. About 0800, I went around and checked out all the garbage cans around the office. Our relief arrived around 0845 and I took out the garbage, then was able to leave. I headed home and passed out.

The rest of the day was spent trying to recover from the bad night's sleep. I guess I wasn't built to sleep in a chair. My body was sore, my head was sore, and I just felt plain crappy all day. My wife and I took it easy and just hung out all day long together. I absolutely hate staff duty on a Saturday…what a waste of a weekend!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Follow-Up - (Germany) Day 297

This morning for PT we went in civilian clothes and everyone headed to the gym to workout. I used weights and had a great core and arm workout. I then headed to work at the normal time, but I only stayed for about a half hour before leaving for a follow-up appointment with my physical therapist. After discussing everything with my doctor we decided to move it to the next level. I will now have to schedule an MRI that will be done at the Landstuhl hospital. I will also schedule an appointment with the neurologist. I'm hoping they can pinpoint exactly what is causing all my headaches and make them stop. It would be nice to make it through a day without having a headache. He also extended my profile. Their system was down, so he just printed out a form stating that my current profile is to be extended.

I headed back to the office for about another half hour before it was time for lunch. I headed to my car and had lunch while listening to music and reading my book. When I came back in the office our CAM said I still need to get a flu shot. She got a call from our S-1, damn…I was hoping they would forget about that. So I headed back to the hospital only to find that the immunization clinic is closed on Fridays for training. Now I have to remember to go back next Monday.

When I got back to the office I did a Skillport. I've been trying to get one done here and there when I have the time. I have my points maxed out, but I've been using the completion certificates to add to my continuing education points for my CompTia certifications. Even though the certifications I have (A+, Network+, and Security+) are good for life, I decided to do the continuing education program in order to keep all my certificates up to date. Each hour I do with SkillPort is worth one point for the continuing education credits. I have to get 50 total points within three years to keep everything up to date. You can view ComTia's website here for all the details.

I then surfed the web a bit until we were told we could inventory and close the safes, then clean up. It was only me and SPC JayZ in the office today, so it was pretty easy going. We were let go at 1600 which was nice. I headed home and spent time with my wife before we took a walk to the movie theatre here on post to see "Here Comes the Boom". A comedy about a school teacher who decides to do MMA fights to make money and save the music program. It's a pretty funny show and we both had a good time out.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Subneting - (Germany) Day 296

Some German graffiti under the overpass on the way
to work depicting the city of Heidelberg. Unfortunately my window
was dirty and there is a reflection.

This morning for PT the normal people went on a run with their body armor, while those of us on profile headed to the gym to workout. I rode the stationary bike for some cardio. This morning in the office we had sergeant's time training as usual for a Thursday. I applaud the effort of someone to actually have some MOS based training. The training session was on IP addressing and subnetting. The problem was that the trainers were not so good. While reading the slides they kept saying or inserting wrong words. The guy doing the training also tried to act like he knows a lot, but kept getting stuff wrong. So in actuality the training was pretty much useless, but I guess still better than some of the other crappy training we have on stuff that has nothing to do with our job or MOS. It's just typical Thursday training for the sake of training. It doesn't matter if it's actually useful or not, they just have to mark down that yes, we did indeed do some training.

We broke for lunch and I headed home after picking up my wife. We had a quick lunch and then she stayed on post to help out with a job fair that was going on. I headed back to work and surfed the web a bit before helping out our CAM with scheduling some appointments for a couple customers. We have to make sure our customers come in at staggered times to get their keys issued to them, or else we would have everyone try and come in at the same time which would not be good. Besides that I inventoried a safe and did the paperwork to mark up the rest of the safes as closed. My CAM keeps telling me I should go warrant officer. I tell her I did actually think about it at one point when I first joined, but now I can't imagine staying in one second longer than I have to. We then were released at 1600…sweet!

I headed home and hung out with my wife for the rest of the evening. I now have less than a week before my next class starts, after that I should keep pretty busy both at work and at home.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Driving Again - (Germany) Day 295

This morning we all had PT in the gym on PHV, but shortly after I got started on the stationary bike, I was told I have to be a driver once again today and leave at 0800. Because of the early time, I had to leave PT right away to get ready for the day.

I met up with our CAM on PHV where we had left the TMP and we headed off to Ramstein. I was selected to drive our CAM to Rammstein for a meeting. I'm not sure how I've unofficially become the platoon driver, I'm horrible at directions and get lost easily. I brought my GPS and hooked it up right away with the address plugged in and ready to go. The drive was not too bad, our CAM and I had a lot of good conversation. I think she now has a good idea of where I stand and what I think about our company. We've gone on a few trips outside the office and have been able to get to know each other a little better over the last few months.

Once we arrived, all we had was a building number to go off of. We drove around the base for a while looking and finally found what we were looking for. I ended up staying in the TMP and read my book while listening to music. I would say we arrived at 0915 and I was in there until about 1130. I ended up taking a nap at some point and was totally passed out by the time our CAM came back out from her meeting…LOL. During the time I was awake, I remember thinking to myself as I sat in the TMP doing nothing, what the heck am I doing here. Am I wasting my life away in the army? I am definitely not learning anything in the I.T. field like I thought I would. I am watching my life just idle on each moment I'm in the army. I have to remind myself of all the other benefits such as being able to see and experience Europe…and I will be getting my bachelors degree…and of course the friends I've made. But still I struggle with this on a daily basis.

We headed to the food court at Ramstein to eat lunch and both ended up having "Johnny Rockets" a classic themed American diner. The food was delicious! We then headed back to the office, where we arrived at about 1330.

This afternoon I actually kept busy with some work. We had a large number of ComSec items that had to be added to our inventory. One of our customers came across a bunch of items while they were getting ready to move. My guess is that as the base is closing and people move, more of this type of stuff will happen. I added everything to our inventory database and then opened our safe so we could manually add each item in order…then of course do a full inventory because the safe was opened. By the time we finished all of this, it was time to clean up and head home. We swung by the new consolidated post office on PHV which was a nightmare. Because of the closings happening around, they merged several (4 I think) post offices into one. I had a package arrive and had to wait in a line that stretched the entire hallway…pretty crazy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Change of Command - (Germany) Day 294

This morning we did not have PT, instead we formed up for accountability at 0645 (really 0635), then headed up to Landstuhl (our company headquarters) for the change of command ceremony. I brought my headphones so I could relax and listen to some music for the hour drive up there. We made a quick stop once there at the shoppette for some breakfast supplies and coffee. We then arrived at the new location for the ceremony…the gym on post. Evidently it was too cold yesterday outside, and they didn't want the honored guests and other civilians to be cold while watching the ceremony.

We had time to finish our coffee and stand around for a while before anything got started. Then we practiced the whole ceremony several times. I'm not too sure why we had to practice so much. Most of these people were here doing this for half the day yesterday and the only thing all the soldiers in formation do is…well…stand in formation. Well we do go to parade rest when told to, we also go to attention when told to, and we also salute when the national anthems of both Germany and America are played. I guess it didn't matter too much that I missed all that practice yesterday…LOL. Just a lot of standing around doing nothing for almost the entire morning.

Finally we were about to start, but it turned out to be a false start. The new commander's wife and family I guess were having a hard time finding the gym. When they arrived about 15 minutes later we finally started the ceremony. Thankfully it was pretty quick…for an army ceremony. We did our thing…stood in formation and such. There was a lot of reading by the Master of Ceremonies. There was the "passing of the guidon", and a prayer. The company commanders both old and new gave some speeches along with the battalion commander, then we were all released.

Everyone in our TMP formed up and quickly exited the building. We headed over to Ramstein for lunch, where I was severely disappointed that Taco Bell stopped selling their Dorito Tacos. I'm not sure what they are thinking…that was perhaps one of the best things they've thought of since the Volcano Taco!

We did have to head back to Landstuhl before heading home. Our CAM had to pick up a laptop from someone at the company. Our CAM is the head of all things ComSec and is actually the supervisor of my boss. She surprised me today by saying in a casual conversation that she gets sick to her stomach every Sunday because she knows that she has to go to work the next day. Sounds a little like I feel. I swear everyone hates being in the army here. I wonder if having a new company commander will change anyone's feelings on this? The pessimistic side of me says...I don't think so.

We were all given a pleasant surprise when we got back to Heidelberg…we were told that we could have the rest of the day off. So from about 1400 on I was free. I headed home and relaxed a bit, chilled in front of the TV after starting some laundry (a never ending battle). I was supposed to go to the range tomorrow, but found out that I can't because I'm still on profile and can't wear my body armor or helmet. I don't even know why they had me scheduled so early. They are good for a year, and I have plenty of time left on mine. I'm also not too sure why they make such a big deal out of the need to wear the body armor and helmet when at the range. The entire time I was at basic training we never wore any of that and we went every day for weeks it seemed.

Not a big deal though, in fact if that is the case, I can't see me going again. I have been diagnosed with spondylosis and I don't see that getting any better. I guess we'll see. I have an appointment this Friday and may be referred to the large hospital in Landstuhl for further diagnosis. We'll see what they can find out or treat me with.

Monday, October 15, 2012

DCS Saves The Day - (Germany) Day 293

This morning we did not have PT, instead we all formed up in ACUs at 0630. Most of the folks had to head up to Landstuhl to practice for the change of command ceremony that is going on tomorrow. It turns out that I had to stay back with our CAM because DCS (Defense Courier Service) - which is kind of like a secure mailman for ComSec - was dropping off a package for us today. With everyone else either in class or on leave, I was the only one left that has the authority to pick up from them…so they saved me from standing around all day outside practicing how to stand and listen to boring speeches.

Since I wasn't sure when I was supposed to be at the office, I had arranged for my wife to take the car and for me to get picked up by our CAM and head into the office. It turns out I didn't have to be in until normal time (0900). So I was able to leisurely get ready for work. When I arrived at the office it was just me and our CAM there…a little strange because it was very quiet. I checked my email and surfed the web. There was nothing else to do and I actually stayed in the office through lunch since it was just me in there.

On a random side note: I was able to start transferring some of my older blogs to this blog (blogger). I've been doing a day here and there when I have the time. I'd just like to have everything in one place. In doing this, I realized how many more photos I used to use each day. I'd like to get back to taking random pictures each day. It's a little harder because we can't take any electrical equipment in the office. I also have a limit to how many photos I can use on this blog, so I may have to link to them from another site…we'll see.

Finally everyone came back around 1400 from the ceremony practice. I heard from the guys that it just plain sucked. They had to practice standing around in the cold and rain and listen to boring speeches, I'll take hanging out in the office any day over that! Speaking of the office...our office has been an icebox for the last couple of weeks. SPC JayZ was able to get a coat hanger from the dry cleaners across the street and then while balancing on a chair and using the modified coat hanger, close each of the air vents. These vents were all blasting in arctic air which had everyone freezing. My fingers had actually started to go numb. This helped somewhat, then one of our customers who came in during the event offered to give us a couple extra space heaters that he had in his office. I jumped at the chance and followed him to his office and brought them back. Once they were hooked up, it was actually bearable in our office.

That customer who came in needed some keys issued to him, so I was able to facilitate that paperwork while our CAM loaded the keys on his device. I then worked the rest of the day with SPC JayZ in getting a lot of our customer's paperwork straightened up. Since we have a new commander coming in, he'll have to sign some paperwork for each of our customers. This creates a lot of new paperwork needed for each account.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up (Cannstatter Volksfest) - (Germany) Day 291 & 292

Inside one of the "tents" at the Stuttgart BeerFest. One big
party where everyone has a great time.

Saturday: We woke up and got ready for the day, then headed to the park and ride off post to catch our bus for the "Cannstatter Volksfest". This fest is also known as the "Stuttgart BeerFest" and I keep hearing that it's better than Oktoberfest, so I had to check it out. The local MWR facility scheduled a trip, so we signed up and headed out. One of the great things about attending this event via a bus trip is that we don't have to worry about driving, parking, or drinking and trying to drive home. Just get on the bus, sit back and relax until we arrive.

The bus ride was a bit over an hour. We headed into the fest and it turned out to be similar in size to the Oktoberfest in Munich. It was huge, with several beer halls, rides, games, and vendors. We went through one of the beer halls first just to check it out. We then decided to go on some rides before we drank anything. Thankfully it didn't rain on us like Oktoberfest. We went on several rides and then headed back to the beer halls, but by this time they were packed. It's crazy how difficult it can be to actually get a beer at a beer festival. We decided to head to one of the beer gardens outside. We had some chicken and beer, then did some more walking around.

It's true that the festival was not as packed as Oktoberfest, but there were still plenty of people everywhere! From what I could tell, you would have to arrive early and get in a tent (beer hall) and stay if you wanted to drink in there. There is live bands, everyone seems to be standing on the tables drinking. It looked like a fun time, but we did indeed have fun just checking everything out. Our bus left at 2100, which turned out to be about the perfect time. Everyone had plenty of time to experience the festivities, and nobody got too drunk to make it back. There was some sort of incident with the German police and some of our passengers, but the bus driver was able to get them all back to the bus before we left…not sure what went on there.

Sunday: Not much to write about here…we slept in, cleaned house, did laundry and watched some TV shows. Not too exciting, but it was a nice relaxing day before I head back to work tomorrow. I would start counting down the days until next weekend, but I have staff duty again next Saturday, so I will have no weekend….Grrrrr.

Check out pictures of the BeerFest in the slideshow below or my flickr album:

Created with flickr slideshow.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Recovery - (Germany) Day 290

This morning I finished up my staff duty shift, I left off yesterday while still doing the shift. The shift ended at 0900. I spent the morning trying to read my book which became increasingly difficult with each passing hour. I found myself reading a paragraph over and over until I finally gave up. I was getting too tired to concentrate. I sat in my staff duty chair listening to music, then decided to try and play some games on my iPhone. That passed the time for a while, but the longer I played the more uncoordinated I became. About 0530 I played janitor for our S-1 & S-3 offices where staff duty is located. This is one of the things that always piss me off when I have staff duty. I have to clean up after these people who just get up and leave when their shift is over. Our office and every other office I know of cleans up after themselves, but because we are here on staff duty, we have to clean up after them. So I got up and vacuumed, then emptied all the trash cans including the three bathrooms. It's not a hard job, but I think it's just stupid that they don't clean up after themselves like everyone else.

Anyways after I finished, I just basically listened to music for a while. I was too tired to do much of anything else. I felt like an uncoordinated drunk by this point. Even my thinking process was slow. Finally the folks started coming in for their normal shifts in both the S-1 and S-3 offices and I was told I could head home. I called my wife to come pick me up, so I could give her a ride back to work and then drive myself home. It's kind of ironic that the army requires a soldier to submit a form if we driving anywhere over the weekend on pass. This form is done on a website and evaluates the dangers of our trip, it's required that we take rest breaks after every few hours of driving and it's also required that we get a good night's sleep the night before our drive…If we don't promise to do these things we could actually have our pass denied. The army doesn't give a crap that I'll be driving home after being awake for a 25.5 hour shift. I actually feel drunk and almost took a wrong turn, then almost ran a stop sign. Luckily I made it home safely.

When I got home I pretty much headed straight to the bed and passed out completely. I slept until 1500, when I got up and readied myself to pick up my wife at 1600. Staff duty really messes up your schedule. Yes I'm happy that I have today off from work, even though I slept for most of the duty day, at least I wasn't in the office. I also got a call from SPC Mac later on letting me know the uniform for Monday. We will not be having PT, instead we'll be forming up in our ACUs, then heading out to Landstuhl for a change of command ceremony practice. Our company commander is changing and the ceremony will be on Tuesday. I guess he has such an ego that he is requiring 100% participation. We have soldiers with appointments that have to cancel them. We also have 3 that will be going to the Intel-34 course in Vilseck for two weeks and they were going to cancel that for a while, until the command finally changed their minds. All this so we can stand in a field and listen to a bunch of boring speeches. I'm not looking forward to that.

My wife and I headed to the theatre on post and watched "Taken 2". The movie was action packed and a lot of fun to watch. A good way to end the night…date night with my wife.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

LandNav - (Germany) Day 289

This morning we didn't have PT, instead we formed up at 0730 in the bowling alley parking lot at PHV. 0730 of course means 0720, so I headed out from my house and walked there so my wife could have the car for the day. I arrived at 0718 to find everyone already formed up, but at least I wasn't the last person…there were a couple more that arrived a few minutes after me. Once we all formed up we were told that we would be heading to 2nd Platoon in Mannheim for training. SPC Mac and I caught a ride with SGT Mex and we headed off for the half hour drive.

Training was in a very old building that was literally crumbling apart. There was a small pile of rubble near the entrance of the building, it looked like there may have been an earthquake, perhaps a few stray bullets, or maybe a truck backed into it…who knows? So we go in the old building and climb up to the top floor where there is a conference room complete with tables and a projector. This is a very fine training room compared to the small office with even smaller monitors that we usually train on. Large maps were handed out along with protractors for the LandNav training we were to have. The training was broken up into small blocks with practical exercises thrown in after each block. We did things like find what was at various grid coordinates, give coordinates for various cities, measure distances, and plot our point given two or more landmarks using a reverse azimuth. All in all the training was done well and it kept everyone involved. It was much better than a lot of the sergeant's time training that we are forced to do. With that said, I'm not sure how much use the training will be in the real world now that everything uses GPS, but I guess if I happen to get lost and also happen to have a map with a compass, I may be able to find my way around.

We left around 1130 and both SPC Mac and I were dropped off at PHV for lunch. I ate at my house which was nice. It's always nice to eat lunch in the comfort of my own place. I was able to plop down on my couch, eat my lunch and watch a show. SPC Mac gave me a ride back to the office were I sat in a chair and looked at the wall. Unfortunately all the computers were taken. There was some idle talk, but it was truly boring as hell. Even all the computers were being used on the maintenance side of the office. I ended up going out and taking my time checking my mail, but that can only take so long. Finally I was told I could head to the gym and workout, since we did not have PT this morning. I had brought in civilian PT clothes, so I headed to the gym and rode the stationary bike for 45 minutes, then did some of the weight machines before being released for the day. I was not actually released though because after speaking with SPC Mac today, I volunteered to take his staff duty shift this evening. His kid is sick and his wife has to work tonight, so he would have had to send a sick kid to a babysitter. No worries I told him, I know what it's like to have sick kids.

So I headed to the staff duty desk after showering and stopping by the shoppette to pick up some staff duty supplies (drinks and snacks). I had my wife bring by my laptop and drop it off, so I am set to sit at a desk and watch movies all night. I guess there have been issues with people sleeping and also not completing all the required checks, so we may get a visit by the CSM in the middle of the night to check on us. Oh joy. The "new" staff duty desk does not have a computer for the "runner" (me) to use, only the NCO. So if I want to surf the internet to try and pass the time, I have to use another one on the other side of the office.

Sitting here at staff duty I've been thinking how much I just don't like being in the army. I can't remember the last time I woke up for work while being in the army and actually looked forward to heading into the office. A person should enjoy their job, or at least feel like they have accomplished something when they spend a day at work. They should have pride in what they do. Me…I used to have that at my previous jobs, but this is something totally different. My only hope is that perhaps when Heidelberg closes, that Wiesbaden will be different and better. I cling to that hope because imagining another 3 years of the same old thing is very depressing. I have enjoyed a few things in the army. I can't say that basic training was enjoyable, but it was interesting and had a lot of funny things happen. It's one thing that I'm glad I was able to accomplish…especially coming in much older than everyone else. AIT was not enjoyable at all, but I was proud that I was able to graduate at the top of the class. I am glad of all the places I've been able to see and the great people that I've met, but the army is not for me. I just hate all the extra crap that goes on. If I could just come in and do the job I signed up for, then go home I think I would be fine. That is kind of what I envisioned when I signed up to be an I.T. Specialist…but is definitely not what I ended up with.

I was given a dinner break at 2000 until 2230, I had my wife pick me up and take me back home to eat dinner and relax a bit before heading back to staff duty. When I headed back to my star duty shift, I ended up watching two movies "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and "Defiance".

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Day of Nothing - (Germany) Day 288

This morning's PT was sprints at the middle school track on PHV…for all the normal folks. Those of us on profile headed over to the gym as usual. I had a good cardio workout of my own on the stationary bike.

My wife dropped me off at work today and after checking my email I surfed the web a bit. There was pretty much nothing to do other than that. SPC JayZ needed the computer, so I moved to the other side of the office and read the newspaper and chatted with the guys on the maintenance side until lunch. Because I had no car, I headed to the food court to eat my lunch and read my book…unfortunately no napping in the food court..LOL. When I headed back to work I just headed to the maintenance side of the office and jumped on one of their computers, then surfed the web. That is all I did the entire day, and unfortunately it was a slow news day. I was bored out of my mind the entire day. Some people may think that would be a dream job, but it is far from it…time just drags on all day long. I know it could be worse, we could be doing something totally retarded.

We cleaned up and were released at 1630 for the day. I just finished the current class I was in, and I'm enrolled into another class that starts near the end of the month. Once that happens I plan to bring my text book into work and use the down time to study. At least then I'll feel like I'm getting something accomplished.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Taxi Man - (Germany) Day 287

This morning's PT was done as a whole battalion. I always hate when they change up the PT schedule. Because of this we had to meet up at the Campbell Barracks gym. I was sent a message from my boss to be at the gym at 0600 because the formation was supposed to happen at 0610. I arrived there with a few minutes to spare and then waited…and waited. I figured everyone was outside forming up in the normal spot, but since it was raining and I was just doing what I was told I just waited. At about 0615 everyone from our company came into the gym and then HHD came in about 5 minutes later. We then did a circuit training workout with one of the usual spinning class instructors as the leader. She did a great job…perhaps she was a drill sergeant in a past life. There were a number of workouts that I could do without breaking my profile, so I did what I could and did alternate workouts when I needed to. All in all it turned out to be a great workout, but like I mentioned earlier I don't care for any changes. This is mostly because everything takes so long. First we are over at Campbell Barracks doing PT, then we run late. So by the time we finish, I have to race back to my house and get ready as fast as possible because I have to leave in order to get my wife to work. This is usually never a problem when we workout on PHV, the post where we live…unless there are special events such as a battalion run or something. I always have to leave at 0815 in the morning, so this morning I only had about 20 minutes to eat, shower, and get ready to leave. A lot of this could be resolved if we had two cars, but we don't have the money to purchase another car…we're still paying on the one we have. On nice days I could ride my motorcycle…but getting my license to ride over here has been a battle…and another story.

At work this morning I checked email and surfed the web for a bit before being asked to give SPC JayZ a ride to the medical clinic. No problem, my boss said I could drive his car if I didn't want to use my own gas…no big deal, we took my car and while we were there I was able to make a follow up appointment for my issues. I then headed back to the office for a while until it was time to pick him up, which I did. By the time we got back it was lunch time and I headed over to see my wife for lunch. We ate lunch together and mailed out some packages for the kiddos at the post office before I headed back.

I then was asked if the new guy (I'm going to call him PV2 Sky because he's as tall as a freakin' skyscraper…he has to duck each time he goes through a doorway) could borrow my body armor. He had to pull QRF (Quick Reaction Force) duty for the next few days which is basically standing guard in full battle rattle at the gate watching the contracted guards check IDs. He's so tall they didn't have any XL body armor for him. Mine is only L, but it works until he can get something a little bigger. I headed to my house and grabbed my body armor, then took it over to his place.

So far my entire day has consisted of driving from place to place until about 1500. I then spent the rest of the day reading news online or the latest edition of the Army Times floating around the office. The day felt pretty unproductive. The good news is that I only have three more days of work until the weekend!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up (Mainz) - (Germany) Day 283 - 286

Burg of the castles we visited this weekend

Friday: This 4-day weekend was unlike most of the 4-Day weekends we've had here. Usually we have big plans, but this time we only planned a small day trip on Saturday to try out some Mexican restaurant. The truth is that this 4-Day kind of snuck up on me, I actually thought the holiday was later on in October and not right at the beginning. No worries though, my wife and I spent a lot of time just being lazy and relaxed almost the entire weekend…which turned out to be a welcome relief. As for Friday, my wife had to work. I drove her to work, then ended up just doing a lot of housework and schoolwork during most of the day. I caught up on some UFC and then picked her up from work. We did some shopping out on the economy for a bunch of stuff to send back to family. We then checked out the holiday bazaar here on post. There was a lot of vendors, so much that it was a little overwhelming. It seemed as if they bumped up the prices though, everything just seemed a little too expensive…so all we did was window shop.

Saturday: We headed off to Mainz for a small day trip. We had seen a spotlight a while back on AFN about a Mexican restaurant up in Mainz, which supposedly has good food. Good Mexican food is hard to find here in Germany. So I did a little research to see what there was to see in and near the city and we took off. We checked out downtown, along the river, and the Mainz Cathedral. We then took off about a half hour out of Mainz to check out some castles. We were able to visit and tour two of the three castles we set out to see. One of the castles we missed the last admittance by two minutes! All the castles were pretty awesome to tour. I'm not sure what it is about the castles that interests me so much, maybe the history, perhaps the fantasy books I've read…but anyways I really enjoyed myself. We then headed back into Mainz and found the Mexican restaurant "Mexico Lindo". We had dinner and the food was decent, definitely not as good as our local Mexican restaurants back home…but certainly the best we've had here in Germany.

Sunday & Monday: I'm combining these two days because they were basically the same…not a whole lot going on except being lazy, hanging out on the couch and watching TV and movies. We did end up going to the theatre on post as well…twice this weekend. We saw "Looper" and "Total Recall (2012)". Both were pretty good movies. The weekend was nice and relaxing. We've already made plans for the next 4-day and also for 2 of the 3 weekends left this month…so this was a nice weekend to totally just chill.

Inside the Mainz Cathedral

Inside the Mainz Cathedral

My wife posing on one of the castle walls

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Potato - (Germany) Day 282

A somewhat blurry photo of our food at "the potato" restaurant

This morning's PT was a run with body armor. It's days like these that I'm extremely glad that I'm on profile. That would've messed me up pretty good! I headed to the gym and on the way over, the NCO in charge of the profiles walked with me and wanted to chat the entire way. He wanted to know about all my injuries, my profile and my long term plans for the army. I gave him all the particulars of what hurts and what I can and cannot do. I also let him know that I only ever planned on signing up for one term and then going back to normal life. I also said that I know I can do my job just fine and it's all the other crap that the profile limits me from. If the army wants to keep me that's fine, if they don't, that's fine too. I then headed and did some cardio on the stationary bicycle for my workout.

This morning at the office I was able to jump on a computer and update some files that were requested for my DTS. I'll do my part, but I still have doubts that I will ever see any of the money they are supposed to pay me for my travel expenses during the two classes I just took.

It's Thursday and you know what that means…one of my favorite days of the week in the army….Sergeant's Time Training! <Insert very heavy sarcasm here>. We sat around on one side of the office and went through various PowerPoint presentations on communication. This included sending up Medivac requests, spot reports, & SALUTE reports. Basically stuff we will never use the entire time we are here in a strategic unit. The class was of course given by two soldiers who were told at the last minute to prepare and give the class…the soldiers picked also had never given or even seen any of these reports in real life…such is our army training.

I headed to lunch in my car after training where I relaxed for an hour before heading over to the chaplain's office. I was told to report there at 1245, of course I have to arrive 10 minutes early…so make that 1235. This was totally unnecessary as I suspected, because he was still in the middle of eating his lunch. I had a seat on his couch and looked at the wall for a half hour before he was ready to start getting ready to leave. I grabbed the keys and the dispatch book for the TMP and filled out all the paperwork. I hooked up my GPS (I use this pretty much anytime I leave the city of Heidelberg because I'm directionally challenged). Unfortunately I couldn't find actual coordinates to our company headquarters on the web, only the hospital located in Landstuhl, so we used those and off we went.

The chaplain did not want to hear the radio, instead inserted an audio book on CD and we listened to how to basically think different. It was actually a pretty interesting book. The drive is a little over an hour and the GPS took us right to the hospital, but unfortunately a gate that only allows outgoing traffic. There was no easy way to get to another gate as we found out, we ended up driving through a couple small towns and farms before I decided to head back to the highway and try the next exit. This was actually the correct exit and we ended up making it to the company in time, just with a lot of scenic views beforehand…or as my friend calls it "building area knowledge".

I was waiting for the chaplain as he spoke with the company commander and the 1st sergeant zeroed in on me and made a beeline straight to me. I stood at parade rest as he addressed me and we ended up having a long conversation about my plans for the army. As I told the NCO this morning during profile PT, I only plan on staying in for one term. Our 1st sergeant had other plans for me…when he found out I was older and had a number of certifications under my belt already, he said "I'm in his crosshairs". He said he wants to move me to Landstuhl to do actual 25B work and make me an NCO. Before I would have jumped at the chance, but from what I've heard about working in Landstuhl…it's some strange hours. I've seen first hand how working different hours from your spouse can really affect the marriage. I also have no plans whatsoever to become an NCO. All the extra crap and responsibility…for a tiny raise is not worth it. I just want to do my job, do my part to contribute, and then go home. Thankfully I'm stationed in Heidelberg and will be out of the 1st sergeant's eyesight for the most part…maybe he'll forget about me.

The chaplain went around from group to group, also taking time to talk to a few people one on one. We didn't end up leaving Landstuhl until almost 1730. I was a little pissed because I wasn't told this in advance. My wife was stranded at work because of this. If I would have known in advance, I could have planned accordingly. I was able to contact my boss and have him give her a ride home…I didn't get home until 1900. Hopefully I will not have to be a chauffeur too often, but if I do…I can make plans in advance from now on.

We quickly got ready and then left for dinner. Tonight we headed to "Die Kartoffel" (The Potato) for SPC Mac's birthday. This restaurant is simply great food. You choose the size of your steak and they bring it out raw, cooking on a hot stone…along with a large baked potato. You then slice up your steak and let it cook to your taste on the hot stone. There are some dipping sauces to use, and you enjoy. Located inside a very old building, the experience is a lot of fun.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Making Bubbles - (Germany) Day 281

This morning's PT was a run around PHV for the normal folk, while I headed to the gym with the other profiles where I rode the stationary bike for my cardio.

The day at work started off the same as I'm sure many more to will…me sitting in a chair drinking my coffee conversing with the others in the office. With only two computers for all of us to use, there is a lot of time to sit and do nothing. I did get on at one point and was able to check my email and surf the web a little. I found that the Intel 34 and 35 classes show up on my ERB and as resident classes for promotion points. We were told that we would not get certificates if we were E-4 and under. With most classes a person has to take the certificate of completion to the S-1 shop to get it manually loaded on the ERB (Enlisted Records Brief…basically a sheet showing all my basic information). I was kind of hoping that I wouldn't have it shown on my ERB, because from everything I hear…once you're in ComSec you can never get out. If it shows up on the ERB, then it will always be seen anywhere you end up in the army. It's not a big deal, I have kind of resigned to the fact that I will be doing this for the rest of my time in the army…a little more than 3 years.

I had lunch in my car…reading…eating…sleeping. Back in the office I found that I was the only one that would be there with a TMP license tomorrow, so I was voluntold to drive our chaplain to the company headquarters in Landstuhl tomorrow. I'm not a big fan of being an army driver, especially when I don't know the route for sure. I'll have to make sure I bring my GPS to work tomorrow, so I can use it in whatever TMP we end up taking. Hopefully I don't end up getting back too late…I'd like to start my 4-day weekend as soon as possible. On the bright side I can add chauffeur to my ever expanding skills that I've gained while being in the army.

Not much to report on as far as work goes…I didn't do much at all there. The highlight of my day was heading to the urinal and seeing how many bubbles I could make while going pee. Since I was drinking a lot of water throughout the day, I was able to repeat this process many times…like I said, not a lot going on today.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Destroy! - (Germany) Day 280

This morning for PT I'm not sure what exactly the group did, it was muscle failure day and I headed to the gym and worked out on my arms and core. The good news was that everyone showed up in the correct uniform finally.

Work started at 0900 as usual and I headed in and sat in a chair, then drank coffee for a while. With only two computers, they were both taken when I arrived at work. I am always the first one to actually arrive at work because I have to drop my wife off at her workplace by 0830. I then pull into the parking lot each morning and take a quick nap in my car. There is no reason for me to go into the office any earlier than needed, and the nap is always much needed. Anyway…I sipped my coffee and chatted with my fellow co-workers for a while until one of my customers came in with their destruction paperwork. I had to look over the paperwork to make sure it was all correct, then sign it myself. I then take all the signed forms back to our CAM who will then confirm that the appropriate keys were destroyed in the system. I then update the customer's folder and file it all away.

I was able to jump on a computer a bit before lunch and received a message telling me that more paperwork was needed for my DTS payment. This is the payment for my trip for the last class (Intel-35). I found that I committed one of the most grievous errors in the army, I turned in my only copy of a certain form to the class when I attended. You never ever give anyone your last copy of anything, always keep a copy for yourself. So I will now have to generate another form and wait for the commander to sign it before I can upload it to DTS and get paid. Not like the process is fast by any means, I still haven't been paid yet for the Intel-34 class I took earlier. I also had to print out my weekend checklist…this weekend is the same as the rest "I'll be spending time with my lovely wife within 150 mile radius of the Heidelberg area". I also had to print out my POV inspection checklist and have an NCO check my car because we are coming up on a 4-day weekend. Both of these things actually bother me, but today I just went through the motions and turned everything in.

I took lunch in my car and as usual, read my book, ate my lunch and listened to music…then of course took a nap. When I headed back into work it was time to start destroying things. By things I mean the old paper based ComSec material that has expired. We have piles of paperwork that have to be shredded and even a few things that a sledgehammer has to be used with. The shredder filled up and while trying to empty it, little tiny bits of paper started to spill out on the floor instead of the trash bag. This is a top secret shredder we use, so the bits of paper are very tiny and a pain to clean up. After sweeping up the larger piles, it took a while with the vacuum to get it all cleaned up.

I also received my monthly counseling. It's my first one in a while because I've been gone, but the platoon sergeant is really pushing all the NCOs to get everyone done each month. Each counseling statement has to show strengths and weaknesses. Mine was good, my boss says I'm a good and smart worker. My strengths this month have been passing the Intel 35 class (I'm the first E-4 in the office to attend and pass both Intel 34 & 35...not due to anything awesome on my part, but a change in the attitude of leadership in sending lower enlisted to these classes). My weakness that he put was that I don't ask for stuff to do. LOL…I'm fine with that one, I will not ever be that guy in the army…a normal job yes, the army…hell no.

We then had a little impromptu awards ceremony in the office. Two people were given good conduct awards (stay out of trouble for three consecutive years) and I was given an AAM (Army Achievement Medal). I received this for doing my part during the last audit and helping us pass. It was really a team effort, and everyone else who was here during the audit received one as well…mine just took a while to process I guess. No worries…I'll stick it in the drawer with the other one.

After that we inventoried the safe and then headed out about 1630 for the day. I've taken a couple days off from schoolwork which has been nice. Just spending the evening with my wife chatting and watching shows has been nice. Tomorrow I'll get back and finish up my last week of schoolwork for this class.