Friday, November 30, 2012

Days of Excellence - (Germany) Day 339

This morning we did not have any PT, instead we headed to the office by 0615 for the trip to K-Town for Days of Excellence. I of course cannot go into the office, so I waited in my car until everyone was ready to go and headed out. I then got on the bus with everyone and promptly plugged in my headphones and took a long nap.

When we arrived the first sergeant was talking to everyone about various items, then went on about social media and blogs. The event started and one of the people being promoted was SGT T from our office. He got promoted to staff sergeant, that was pretty cool to watch because he's been working hard at it for a long time. We then went into some suicide training and then some interesting ASAP (army substance abuse program) training. The lady teaching it kept it entertaining by not using PowerPoint slides. Instead she talked about the effects of each drink and had a real time blood alcohol content meter up on the screen, showing the BAC of both a male and female after a certain number of drinks. She then had people wear the drunk goggles and perform some entertaining scenarios up in front of the crowd. When asking questions she had a goodie bag full of ASAP swag she would give to anyone with a correct answer.

The event ended with the battalion commander again going over social media and blogs, reminding people that what they say will come back and bite them. The cool thing is that SGT Steroids came up to me and asked how I was doing. He has been pretty awesome during all of this, I think because he's gone through some issues before and knows what it's like to be alienated and have the command on you all the time. I'm very thankful for him as well as the NCOs in my office that actually know me. He said they wouldn't let anything bad happen to me, I don't know if there is much he can do…but the thought is nice.

When we left the event and boarded the bus, we found out that we were not heading home, instead we were heading to Ramstein for a farewell lunch. Not everyone was too happy about that, a mandatory farewell event at a restaurant when not everyone even prepared by bringing money. When we arrived we found that they didn't make reservations, so our bus just headed to the food court instead. We ate lunch, then headed back to the office. Once there we took off for the day.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Uncomfortably Numb - (Germany) Day 338

PT this morning was a combination of PT and sergeant's time training. SGT Steroids taught combatives, but this time it was a much longer session lasting from 0730 until 1100. After some warm up exercises everyone actually got down and did some actual real time practice trying to do some of the moves. He also did "The Gauntlet" which has one person that stays on the mat while everyone else takes turns trying to submit him. It's a grueling process for the one who stays on the mat. I was told to head to S1 at 0900, so I left before it was finished. If I was healthy and not broke, this would have been a fun experience and a great workout…unfortunately I just watched with the other profiles.

The entire day I felt pretty much numb, only talking to people when talked to. When exchanging pleasantries with the cashier at the shoppette I had to force a smile as I left. I'm just not myself anymore. I don't feel like much at all…just in a daze for the entire day. I heard that rumors are flying about all the stuff I've said, and like a lot of rumors most of it is embellished or just a plain lie. I know our platoon sergeant absolutely hates me and can barely look me in the eye when he does have to address me. I'm kind of glad I'm hanging out in S1 all day away from all that. The sergeant I report to in S1 is very cool and down to earth. He didn't actually have anything for me to do today, but I did bring my textbook and ended up spending the day reading the chapter I'm on in the morning. I headed home for lunch, I just can't stand even being on the post longer than I have to. I spent the afternoon rereading the same chapter to make sure I understood it as well as possible. My current class is on business management, which I've mentioned before. The chapter I'm on is all about motivating your employees and how different employees react to various methods. It also talks about how negative reinforcement does not promote a good work environment. Everything they mentioned about negative reinforcement is done all the time in the army. Just one of the many reasons I can't wait to get out. I can't imagine what the rest of my time will be like in the army with everything going on. I know it's not going to be a good experience…I only have 1086 days left, that is if they don't kick me out sooner.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Too Much Stress - (Germany) Day 337

I woke up way too early with a raging headache most likely due to all the stress on me. I laid in bed until my alarm clock went off at 0530, then got ready and headed out for PT. PT was here on PHV and was a run for the normal folks, while I headed into the gym for cardio on the bicycle. With my headache and my mind on everything else going on, I didn't get much of a workout at all. I just kind of went through the motions and then headed back home to get ready for my day. I was told I'd be heading to S1 and doing whatever they needed me to do today.

I headed to the office after gassing up the car. I headed to the shoppette first in order to fill up my gas card because I had put myself in the negative by a bit. On my way to the shoppette the first sergeant saw me and called me over to his car. He then chewed my ass for a while. What a crappy way to start the day. My head is pounding and I already feel like shit, then I have the first sergeant ripping me a new one. He then goes on to question if I'm a terrorist or not. WTF? I tried to explain this blog was just a way to let family & friends back home know what I do everyday…and get everything off my chest for the night to relieve some stress. He would have none of it and proceeded to chew me out some more. I was told nobody trusts me anymore, I can't access any computer system, and my security clearance has been suspended. I just think this whole thing has gotten a little out of hand. He had a number of pages from my blog printed off in his lap and kept going through them and shaking his head, then chewing me out some more.

I then went off and filled my gas card, and headed to S1. I did menial work for the sergeant in charge there because I couldn't get on any computers. They had me organize a couple supply closets before lunch. I was fine with it and did the best I could…it kept me busy and passed the time.

I headed home for lunch and tried to just relax a bit. On the way back to work, I pretty much broke down. I kept thinking of all the "what ifs" that may happen to me. Am I going to jail? Am I going to get dishonorably discharged? They are going to make an example of me, this I do know. I got myself back together and continued to head into the S1 office. I then did some more cleaning and organizing before our company commander came in and took me into an office. This conversation was much better than the one with the first sergeant. I was finally told why they are taking my blog as such a security threat. It's because in their eyes I've put myself, my wife and my co-workers at risk. I was then told of some actual events that have happened here in Germany with a soldier being killed and his ID taken after he drank a little too much and gave up a little too much information about how important he was. His ID was then used to get on a post and a bomb was set off. Someone else had their wife kidnapped and they were going to use her to force him to give up classified information, luckily this was stopped by police before anything happened.

I realized that even though pretty much everything I put on my blog can be found on Google, I did mention a lot about what I do and that is what put me and everyone at risk. It wouldn't take much for someone to figure out who I am or who my wife is and then take action. I did apologize to my commander and let him know that none of this was my intent at all. It was only to relieve some stress and keep my family in the loop. He said the decision of what will happen to me is coming from higher up than him, but I felt like at least he knows where I'm coming from and I'm not a freakin' terrorist.

I continued to do odd jobs for S1 for the rest of the day and was let off at 1600 for the day. I headed home and cooked dinner. I received calls from our CAM, my boss, and SPC Mac again tonight making sure I was OK and letting me know they are supporting me. Our CAM really wants me back in the office, but I'm not sure if that will happen. I know they want to make an example of me, I guess I'll just have to wait and see what kind of punishment I'll get.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shit Hits the Fan - (Germany) Day 336

PT this morning was resistance band training at the Campbell gym. Instead of having the profiles head off, we all joined in and did what we could. It was basically circuit training with various exercises done with the resistance bands. Because there was no impact on a lot of them, I could do most with no issues. I ended up getting a pretty good workout, and it was nice to do something different for PT. SGT Steroids put the whole thing together and I think everyone liked it for the most part.

I headed to the office and got a little work done before all of a sudden I was called to the CSM office along with our platoon sergeant and our CAM. This can't be good! I waited outside while our platoon sergeant and our CAM went in and talked with the CSM. I was then called in a few minutes later and got my ass chewed out because of this blog. I guess the entire 5th signal command saw my blog and my post about operation solemn promise. The general was upset and shit rolled downhill. It got bigger and bigger until it hit our battalion CSM…then this huge pile of shit hit me. I had to stand there and hear the CSM chew me out for my disrespect. Let me tell you...that is not a lot of fun. While typing my blog, I just thought I was exercising my free speech, but while in the army...free speech is limited.

The CSM couldn't actually tell me to take my blog down or change the privacy settings, but he did really recommend it. I didn't think about it too long, I could keep it up, but would be harassed non-stop about it…so I headed home for lunch and changed the settings so only I can see. it. I was about to eat lunch when I got called back to the office. I headed back in and was told I have to stay in my car, I can't come into the office anymore. It turns out that they printed off a large number of my previous posts and are now saying I've violated OpSec. I was surprised by this, because I try and take great care to not put anything classified on my blog. For now though I have to stay out of the office. A few minutes later our platoon sergeant told me to go to S2 and hang out there instead of my car. So I went to S2 and did some reading in my school textbook.

I headed home and my boss came over. He had to give me an "event oriented counseling" that I had to sign. It basically said what I did and I agreed. I then got a call from SPC Mac, SGT Mex, and our CAM telling me they were behind me and were not quite sure what was going on, but to "hang in there." That was pretty cool knowing that I have their support. I did some schoolwork for a while trying to catch up from the 4-day weekend. The night sucked, I tried to go to bed early, but tossed and turned all night. I didn't sleep much…too much on my mind.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Off to Guam - (Germany) Day 335

PT this morning was a run around PHV for the normal folks, while I headed to the gym and rode the bicycle for my cardio. I had a decent workout considering I just came off a 4-day where I ate way too much!

At the office I actually did a lot of work in the morning. I checked on all my account folders as well as one of my co-worker's folders. He has been away on an FTX and his folders have kind of been forgotten by everyone. I checked them all and made notes on which folder needs what, then emailed all the customers requesting the required documents or requesting that they come into the office for a particular brief.

I picked up my wife for lunch and we ate at the food court in the shopping center. After that we headed home where I changed into civilian clothes. I had to give her a ride to the airport so she could go to a funeral for family in Guam. The ride was nice, and the time I spent with my wife at the airport was nice, I just hated to see her go. I'm going to be a bachelor for a week. Not too happy about that, but I don't mind only working a half day today…I could get used to that!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up (Thanksgiving in England) - (Germany) Day 331 - 334

I knew it was going to be an awesome thanksgiving when we were the
first family to arrive and there was already this much food out!

Thursday: (Thanksgiving Day) We slept in, then our portion of the food was prepared. We headed over to another house to celebrate Thanksgiving with 70 people! My wife is an island girl, as is her cousin of course. I noticed very quickly when I joined the army how fast island people find each other and hang out. It doesn't seem to matter which pacific island they are from, they have a special bond and when away from home all the island people seem to get together and form a surrogate family. I was of course the only white guy there, an island person by marriage :)

The meal was huge, not only enough to feed all 70 people, but feed them about 4 times over! It also had an island flair to it with lumpia, rice, and many other dishes besides traditional turkey and stuffing. It was awesome. I headed to the garage at one point and hung out with the guys, had a few beers, listened to some island music, and just chillaxed for a while. We stayed until about 0100.

In our boat heading down the river on our "punting tour"
You can see some of the other boats ahead of us.

Friday: We all slept in, which was nice after staying up late last night. I woke up and did some actual 25B work! I worked on a computer at my wife's cousin's house…LOL. We then headed out for "high tea" in a local town. The tea was brought out just like you see in little kids tea sets (although it was real and not plastic of course). Their selection of tea was pretty impressive. My wife ordered some mango/cinnamon tea (or something close to that), I ordered traditional tea, and our two hosts ordered chili tea and popcorn tea…some pretty crazy stuff going on here! We also ordered a sandwich for lunch, the tea and the food was great. 

We headed to Cambridge and checked out the city before going on a "punting tour". This is similar to a gondola tour where a guy in the back pushes you along in a boat with a long pole. He was also our tour guide giving us historical information all along the river and the university. It was pretty cool, I have to recommend checking it out if you ever spend any time in Cambridge.

We headed to McDonald's for dinner and had "take away" (to go). I had onion rings and a "Spanish Grande"…and learned the reason we don't have onion rings served at McDonald's in the US…they suck!. We then met up with some friends and watched "Expendables 2", an awesome guy movie! After that we finished up the night going to an English pub to have a pint. I had to have at least one before I left England.

Big Ben during our soggy trip to London

Saturday: Woke up early at 0600 so we could head to London. We took "The Tube" (the subway) and had to "mind the gap". This was said at each stop to remind people to watch out for the space between the train and the platform. It was kind of funny, because it was being said constantly. It was a soggy day, but we checked out all the tourist attraction sites anyway. Big Ben and Parliament, The London Eye, and Buckingham Palace. We then headed to Westfield Shopping Center. This is a huge mall and was packed full of people. So many people that I could barely get from store to store. I quickly gave up and just sat down and told the girls to meet me when they're done…it was out of control!

Sunday: Slept in and basically just had a lazy day. We hung out in the house, watched a movie and just visited all day. I did a little more computer work on their computers and also did some schoolwork…I'm a little behind because of the holiday and our trip. We left to the airport and headed back home…arriving about 2300.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Heading Off To England - (Germany) Day 330

Customs and passport control once we got off the plane. Once we told them we were
here to spend Thanksgiving with family and showed our military IDs along with our passports,
we were sent on our way. 

This morning I finished up my staff duty shift. Not a lot happened from midnight until 0900. I did take a few micro-naps, I played a lot of Plants vs. Zombies, and I played janitor and did our mandatory cleaning duties for the S-1 & S-3 shops. After that I headed home and took a nap until 1400. I then proceeded to get ready for the day. When my wife got home, we ate, then headed off to the airport. We decided to use an airline called "Ryan Air". We've heard a lot about this particular airline because of it's cheap fares. It does have some amazing deals with flights as cheap as 10 Euro! It's a no frills airline and if you don't mind traveling light, or boarding the plane like a herd of cattle, then you can save a ton of money. They make their money with a lot of small fees for various items. You can fly with a carry on, but anything else will cost you. You can also reserve a seat, but that will cost you as well. We actually paid a little extra for "priority boarding", which we thought was well worth the extra fee. Priority boarding allows you and the small portion of other travelers who purchased this option to board the plane first. I wanted to make sure I got a seat next to my wife and that we had room in the overhead storage for our carry on bags. This worked like a charm, we loaded well ahead of everyone else and we were set for our flight.

The flight itself was like most other flights, but there were no complimentary drinks or snacks given…they were only available for purchase. The flight was quick enough at a little over an hour, some of which I slept so it seemed like only a few minutes. We arrived in the UK and went through customs easily enough. With our passports stamped, we headed out and met my wife's cousin who picked us up at the airport. My wife's cousin is the spouse of an airman stationed in England. I have to say that all the way home I was a little freaked out, I just couldn't get used to cars driving on the wrong side of the road. It's pretty crazy!

When we arrived at their home, food was waiting for us. I love my wife's family! We ate, hung out for a bit, then passed out for the night.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Total Recall - (Germany) Day 329

This morning for PT we had to form up at the Campbell Barracks gym. There were a few people having a PT test, everyone else worked out at the gym. The Campbell gym is much bigger than the PHV gym with lots of free weights and a basketball court as well. The only bummer about forming up at Campbell Barracks is the extra time it takes away from my morning. The drive is about 15 minutes away and it always seems we stay later when we are at Campbell. Unlike everyone else, I have less time to get ready because I take my wife to work. I did have a good strength workout though with the weight machines, then quickly headed home where I rushed to get ready for the day, which is going to be a long one.

My wife actually dropped me off at work this morning because I have staff duty tonight, this will allow her to have the car for the day. Since I was dropped off early, I just hung out in the food court and played with my iPhone until 0900 when our work call starts. In the office our limited computers were of course taken, so I just headed over to the maintenance side and read a copy of the Army Times that was laying around. Out of the blue came one of the stupidest things I've ever witnessed. Out platoon sergeant said that there is a mandatory recall. Everyone in our platoon had to come to the office. This wasn't a big deal for me, I was already there. The problem is that we had SGT Mex in a required ACAP class. This is a class that helps with the transition from the military to the civilian life. If he misses one, he has to reschedule it. He was forced to leave the class and come back to the office. Not only this, but there were people that had the day off and also one person who worked the night before and was sleeping. I would have been so pissed if I were one of them, in fact I was pissed for them! When everyone finally arrived we expected to hear some crazy news about a terrorist plot in Heidelberg, or perhaps a murder, or even a massively uncontrolled overflowing toilet. Instead…we were all told to head over to S-1 and show them our dog tags and ID card. WTF??? This place is freaking retarded. We all headed over, showed our items and initialed a piece of paper. What a bunch of crap. At least by this time it was lunch time...I headed to the food court with my sack lunch, where I ate and played games on my iPhone for the duration.

In the office there is still a lot of crap getting cleaned up and thrown away. The shredder seems to have been going non stop, furniture is being moved, and crap just keeps piling up. I volunteered to go with some others on a run to the dump. I knew we weren't doing anything in the office, and doing something is better than nothing. We loaded a TMP with all the crap and headed to the PHV recycling center and dumped it all out. It passed the time, but not enough because we made it back to the office at about 1445. I was able to get on a computer for a bit and check my email, then surf the web and read all about today's world, local, and my hometown news.

Everyone left about 1600, but I had to stay and wait for staff duty to start…so it was on to peopleofwalmart.com for some laughs and entertainment to pass the time until then. My boss and I have staff duty and headed over to the S-1 office where our staff duty takes place. I sat down at my desk and chatted with my boss until about 1900 when I left for my dinner break. An hour and a half later I came back and my boss took off for his break. While sitting here listening to music and surfing the web I noticed the IMO was still here. There was a VTC going on with a bunch of the brass and he had to stay here until it was finished. The guy has been here an entire day and had to stay until 2130 when they finally came out, and he has to come back at the normal time tomorrow. I wish we would have known, he could have gone home at the normal time of 1700 and I could have called him or something when the meeting ended. The army talks a big talk about caring for the soldier and the family of the soldier, but when it comes to action it's just not there. This is just one little instance where we see that the upper brass doesn't give a crap about the lower enlisted. Stuff like this goes on all the time.

The night was spent chatting with my boss and SGT Steroids who is still on extra duty. I'm not sure if you can really call it extra duty though. Even though he's been given a number of tasks to do, he just sits around and chats all night with me and my boss. It's funny that because I'm a bit older, I'm included in a lot of conversations with NCOs that they would normally not talk about with lower enlisted. There were a lot of interesting conversations had this evening. After SGT Steroids left for the evening at midnight, my boss and I watched a movie together…"The Campaign". This was a pretty funny show with Will Ferrell & Zach Galifianakis, we were both laughing pretty hard.

Monday, November 19, 2012

More of the Same - (Germany) Day 328

The morning fog was pretty thick on the drive into work

This morning for PT I'm not even sure what the normal folks did, probably some sort of cardio out in the cold. I headed into the warm gym and did my cardio on the stationary bike while listening to my iPod.

Work this morning was tough to get started. On a normal day, I end up arriving around 20 minutes early to work because I have to drop my wife off at her job. I usually put my seat back and listen to music, and perhaps take a nap. This morning was no exception, I fell promptly asleep. Getting up after that quick nap was tough, I wasn't quite fully awake and with my head in a fog I made my way into the office. I sat at a computer, drank my coffee and after checking email I started doing my schoolwork. I'm taking a class on business management and it's currently talking about the different cultures in organizations. As I'm reading about a lot of the negative cultures, I'm relating them all to my experience in the army. I'm really going to try and find a positive place to work when I do get out. I don't care too much about the money, I just want to be happy and enjoy my job. I want to work for a place that cares about their employees, a place with a positive atmosphere. Maybe I'm dreaming, but I'm really going to put in a lot of effort pursuing this effort. I just really hate feeling miserable every day when I think about my job and the army. I actually don't even care if I stay in the I.T. field when I get out…that is if I'm still sane by the time I get out.

I headed to lunch in my car as usual, but was not able to do any reading…my iPad wasn't charged…D'oh! I also surprisingly didn't take a nap either, I just listened to music and played Plants vs Zombies on my iPhone. 

Back in the office we did a lot of cleanup in preparation for the upcoming closure. This has been an ongoing process with a lot of paper shredding and many trips to the dumpsters. It's amazing how much crap that just keeps appearing. I did a little actual ComSec work as well checking each of my accounts to see if there is any SAVs (Sight Assisted Visits) due. These are basically checks that our NCOs do at our customer's sites to make sure they are following all the ComSec rules and regulations.

I had a survey emailed to me from the big army. They are surveying 25Bs trying to get a feel for what real life is like for a 25B, so they can adjust their training in the schoolhouse appropriately. Each of the questions had me rate from never all the way to often multiple times a day with several options in-between. The questions would ask how often I did various 25B tasks (such as troubleshoot software, hardware, install software, administer active directory, and many many more such things. I had to answer every single question with "never". It's really a joke that I joined as a 25B (Information Technology Specialist) and haven't done my job at all. I came in very skilled too! …a really bad joke. 

I had to inventory a safe and then do our normal end of day cleanup...we were released at 1700.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up - (Germany) Day 326 & 327

Our Christmas tree...my wife got into the Christmas spirit a little early this year

Saturday: This morning I woke up too early with a raging headache, so much for the shots in the back of my head stopping all headaches from happening. I think it was mostly due to dehydration from yesterday. I made that trip for Operation Solemn Promise and didn't drink much of anything. I didn't want to have to go to the bathroom on the bus ride there or during the event, then of course we had the bus ride home. I think all I drank all day was a little coffee. It really messed me up all day today, I'm just glad I didn't have to work…I just laid around all day trying everything I could think of to get rid of the pain and also trying to hydrate myself again.

I was feeling well enough by the evening to go check out the new James Bond movie "Skyfall" with my wife, SGT Mex and our CAM. It was an action packed movie and fun to watch, everyone had a good time. The nice thing about seeing a movie here on post is that we can just walk to it, it's always nice to just take it easy and walk around with my wife.

Sunday: We didn't actually do a whole lot today. My wife got in the Christmas spirit a little early and decided to put up our tree and some other decorations around the house. I try not to do anything Christmas related until Thanksgiving has come and gone, but my wife doesn't usually really ever get in the Christmas spirit, so who am I to stop her?

We headed downtown for lunch and got a bratwurst and pommes (fries). That is something I'm really going to miss about being in Germany when I finally have to leave. There is something about their bratwurst with mustard and their fries with mayonnaise. The mayo they use isn't quite like the mayo in the states. In fact I don't use mayo on anything in the states, but here it's very common to put it on their fries. I tried it and haven't looked back…it's good stuff!

Back at the house we hung out and watched TV shows. I was able to spend some time this weekend doing schoolwork as well. I had thought about visiting some nearby town that we haven't seen yet, but with my headache that was out of the question. We just chilled for the most part all weekend. Next weekend we'll be heading to England for Thanksgiving, our big trip for this month…I'm looking forward to it, since we haven't been able to play tourist for a while. Next week is a short week, hopefully there won't be too much BS to put up with…then we'll be outta here!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Operation Solemn Promise - (Germany) Day 325

This morning's PT was in the gym, we were cut loose by squad to do "squad PT". This just meant that each squad leader was in charge of doing their own workouts for the squad. Our squad leader, my boss, just had everyone head to the gym…business as usual for me. I wasn't feeling too motivated this morning though, just a mediocre ride on the stationary bike to get some cardio in.

This morning at work, I didn't do a whole lot. I had enough time to check my email and read the top stories in the news. Oh and don't forget the required weekend checklist documenting our plans for the weekend. Luckily I have mine saved and just change the date each weekend stating that I'll be "spending time with my lovely wife within a 150 mile radius of the Heidelberg area". By the time I finished that we all had to head out and board a bus that was taking us all to Wiesbaden…home of the 5th Signal Command. Today they are having a special event there called "Operation Solemn Promise". We've been hearing about this event for a couple weeks now, and today is the day. This is a time when the command at 5th signal like to boost their egos and force everyone from all across Europe to attend. I'm not joking, not only did we load up a bus full of people for the hour drive, there were units from Grafenwoehr, Italy, and even Belgium.

Luckily I'm used to the way this unit operates and I brought my lunch on the bus. I ate it during the hour long drive to Wiesbaden. When we arrived we were told we would have an hour to get something to eat at the DFAC, the food court, or just pick something up at the shoppette. Since I…and a few others ate on the bus we headed to the shoppette for some coffee. About 15 minutes later we hear that we all need to form up and head into the gym. I was a little pissed because I only had a drink or two of my coffee, but not as pissed as I would have been if I were like some of the guys who just sat down to eat. 

The gym was full of soldiers and some civilians. We sat down and waited for about an hour and a half. I guess we didn't need to drop everything and rush after all <sarcasm>. Anyways the event was like many other army ceremonies, except this one had quite a bit more army propaganda. We were force fed all the reasons we serve and what a great army we are part of. We then listened to speech after speech stating the same things. I swear the higher rank one gets, the more they can talk…and talk they did.

We then had to all stand up and do a mass enlistment oath. I've done it once, I don't need to do it again thank you. We then heard some NCOs sing some songs, it felt a little like an audition for "The Army's Got Talent".

When the ceremony was finally over, we had to assemble as a battalion up on the "zumba" room. Here we heard our own CSM give us some more long winded talks. This served as our weekend safety brief. I'm so not a fan of these, especially when they go on and on. I think if a person is going to do something bad, a little pep talk the Friday before the weekend is not going to stop them. Maybe it's because I'm a grown freakin' man and I don't go out and do stupid stuff, but I really hate the safety briefs.

We were finally released and we headed back to the bus for the hour long drive back. We arrived back at Campbell Barracks at 1715, where I promptly exited the bus and headed straight to my car…and left.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Instructor Me - (Germany) Day 324

Our platoon working on modern army combatives moves for PT this
morning while I watched and took some pictures...LOL

This morning's PT was combatives. Those of us on profile were required to go and watch instead of heading to the gym and getting an actual workout. So we arrived at the racquetball court in Campbell Barracks and proceeded to watch everyone roll around with each other. The army combative training (called Modern Army Combatives) tries to incorporate a little of MMA style fighting into our training. I don't have anything against this, in fact I'm a huge fan of MMA. I don't know how much good it does anyone though when we only train for about an hour a month or so. I think for it to be really useful, we would need to do it on a daily, or at least weekly basis to get any good at it. Unfortunately I can't do much of anything except watch…if only I was younger and not broken.

At work this morning I was told that I was giving our sergeant's time training for this Thursday. The training…giving everyone a hand receipt holder's brief. This is the same brief I gave my customers yesterday. No problem, I brought up the PowerPoint slides and just went around the room having people read each slide. I would pause here and there giving some of my own commentary, my boss would have me pause as well while he gave some extra commentary. It was painless and pretty easy. 

When we finished I had a little time to do a bit of schoolwork before lunch. I had lunch in my car as usual…eat, read, listen to music, nap. Back in the office I had to do some required online training that everyone has to finish before the Thanksgiving break. I had the training on, but with all the noise I could barely tell what was going on with the training. No big deal though, SPC JayZ was there with me when I took the test and he had just finished passing it…so he gave me some tips to help me pass as well.

I then had to inventory a safe that was opened, but during the process I came across a number of discrepancies from the previous inventory. We had to go through and fix everything that was done before…let's just say SGT Steroids is not very good with the details. It's all fixed now though.

I also had to speak with another special agent in the afternoon. This special agent was questioning me about SPC JayZ about his clearance. So I had to let him know what I know about SPC JayZ, which isn't actually too much because we really don't hang out a lot. After that it was about time to clean up and head out.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Special Agent - (Germany) Day 323

Taken on my trip back from the hospital yesterday. You will see several
windmills dotting the German countryside. Between these and all the
solar panels everywhere it shows that Germany has invested
quite a bit in renewable energy.

This morning's PT had to use of resistance bands for the normal folks, I'm not sure exactly what they did as I headed over to the gym to do my own workout. I used the weight machines and completed my normal strength workout, which I was glad to do in the gym because it was pretty cold outside.

At work this morning I actually did some ComSec work. I had two of my customers come in to receive their "Hand Receipt Holder's Brief". This is a yearly requirement for every person that will be handling ComSec at each of our accounts. I had two that were overdue and had them come in this morning so I could give them their brief. This is actually only the second time I've given the brief. The brief is basically a PowerPoint presentation that I read each of the slides. Once I'm done (we schedule an hour for the process), I have them sign some paperwork and they are good to go for another year. I then update our records with the paperwork and file them away.

By the time I was finished I checked my email and surfed the web for a bit before leaving for lunch. I headed over to the food court and had Subway while reading my book. I had to make sure I was back a little early because I had a "Special Agent" coming in to do my background investigation interview at 1300. She came right on time and we used our platoon sergeant's office for the interview. The entire process for my portion took about an hour. She basically just went over everything I had submitted back in June. Asking me all the questions about my past work, school, and where I've lived. It was all pretty straight forward and wasn't actually quite what I expected. I expected the "human lie detector" with drilling questions while I'm being stared at, but it was basically just a conversation back and forth. 

The next part had four different co-workers of mine go in for about 10 minutes each, so she could get a better all around view of me. I think it all went well, so we'll see how long it takes now before I get notified if I received the clearance or not.

Some other items of note. We were informed that the higher ups have been working hard and want to make sure everyone knows where they are heading once our post closes as soon as possible. They are going to have a number of meetings going over each person and what slots they need to fill around Europe. We may hear something as soon as the 14th of December…a month from now. 

My boss had to get a copy of my temporary profile and take it to S-3. I guess they had me signed up to head to WLC, which just blows my mind. I really think they would ask me if I want to go and not just sign me up to go. Luckily you cannot go while on a temporary profile, so they took me off the list. In my head I just think we have more important stuff we can be doing with the base closing and we are already losing people that will not be replaced. We still have to cover all the same extra duties which seem to come up as well as staff duty. So sending me to WLC for a month makes no sense, especially if I have no desire to go. Not to mention I'm currently taking a college class that the army is paying for. Everyone here pushes and pushes for people to attend college, but sometimes I think it's just lip service. They wouldn't think twice about having me drop the class and force me to go to WLC. I'm just glad I'm still on temporary profile…in fact I think I need to schedule another appointment pretty soon to have it extended.

The shots in the back of my head seem to have kept me from getting a full blown headache. It's kind of hard to describe what I'm feeling now and how I've felt all day. Although I don't have an actual headache for once, I have felt like I'm on the verge of a headache. I've felt pressure in my head and I've also had a sore neck and shoulders. I'm hoping this will go away with some time maybe, but I guess I'll have to wait and see. It sure beats having a full blown extremely painful headache though!

The end of the day consisted of a little surfing the web and just chatting with the folks in the office. After cleaning up, we were released at 1630.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Neurologist - (Germany) Day 322

Driving on the autobahn towards the Landstuhl hospital...a wildlife crossing

This morning's PT had those of us on profile head straight to the gym after formation as usual, then unlike most days, 2nd platoon fell out and all headed to the gym as well. Usually the company all does the same thing, but I guess 2nd platoon wasn't feeling it today. I'm not even sure what 1st platoon did today, as for me I did cardio on the elliptical machine. Unfortunately all the stationary bikes were taken, but the elliptical machine is also a good cardio machine…I just don't care for it as much, it just doesn't feel natural. The important thing is that it is also a no impact machine, so no extra pain for my knee and neck.

Instead of heading to work I headed straight to the Landstuhl hospital again this morning. I had an 1100 appointment. I needed to arrive early (as usual) and the trip takes a little over an hour. So just in case there was traffic I left right after I dropped my wife off for work at 0830. This did give me a small window to take a nap once I did arrive at the hospital, which was perfect because I was about to fall asleep on the drive there.

I headed into the neurology clinic and after filling out some paperwork and only waiting a few minutes, I was called back. The doctor had me take off my jacket and shoes, then asked me a bunch of questions. She then inspected me all over, making sure I had good communication from my brain to all my extremities. She pulled up the MRI and showed me the results. It looks like I have some degenerative disks that are stressing my nerves and causing my headaches. It was easy to see in some of the photos how a couple of my vertebrae did not have much space surrounding them as the others. She then suggested that I get a shot in the back of my head to numb the nerves up there. It's a little scary when people start talking about sticking needles in your head. She had a concoction of 3 different ingredients, I honestly can't remember them though. She then drew them each into a large syringe with a needle that made my eyes bug out of my head. She saw my reaction and told me not to worry, she was just using that to draw out the medicine. She then replaced the very large needle with a much smaller one…the one that she stuck in the back of my head…twice! One injection on each side near where my spine connects to my head. It was a little discomforting, but not to bad. The effects should last a month, so I'm trying to be very cautiously optimistic. I can't imagine not having constant headaches every day now, if this can fix them…I'm going to be a very happy dude!

I made an appointment with her in 4 weeks to go over everything and proceed with another shot if needed. I'm also going to make a headache log each night and not take any over the counter meds. I'm really crossing my fingers and hoping we may be on to a solution at least to fix the symptoms of my issues. 

I ate lunch in my car at the hospital before leaving and ended up getting back to the office at 1400. I did a little bit of work trying to contact my customers and getting some dates on when and where they will go when the Heidelberg post closes. We need to start the process of transferring their accounts to the various other ComSec accounts that they will be moving to. That will be a process, so we're trying to be a little proactive.

I spent the rest of the day as usual…surfing the internet and then cleaning up when it was time to leave. We were released at 1630.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up (Veteran's Day) - (Germany) Day 318 - 321

A view down the Hauptstra├če in downtown Heidelberg. A lot of people
out and about for the middle of a Monday!

Friday: I started the 4 day holiday still working. I had to finish up my staff duty shift until 0900. The good news is that I was able to sleep for short periods from time to time. I put in my headphones and listened to music drifting in and out of sleep either in my chair, on a very hard couch, and also on the floor at one point. Staff duty has to be one of the stupidest things we do. Why they can't just assign a cell phone to an NCO for a week or so instead is beyond me. No, two people have to sit and waste time for 24 hours doing nothing. It also takes two people out of the office for that next day's shift when they get staff duty on a weekday. The office is down people and our sleep pattern is all messed up.

After we got off shift, I headed home and slept some more, I didn't get up until a bit after 1400. So with the day pretty much over, I didn't do much. I still felt a little off for the rest of the day. My wife came home from work and we watched some shows together, but that is about it. Hurray for the first day of this holiday weekend.

Saturday: Today we headed off to downtown Heidelberg to grab some Starbucks coffee. Nothing like having some coffee while looking out at the rain, reminds me of being back home in the Seattle area. We also picked up a couple of sweatshirts from the Heidelberg University. This is one thing we wanted to make sure we got for ourselves before we leave. A souvenir we can wear and remember our time here in this cool city.

We then headed off to Ramstein air base to do some shopping at their large PX. We started our Christmas shopping and have to try and get it all done this month so we can ship it all back to everyone. We got a few people crossed off the list. Unfortunately the weather has been kind of wet lately. If it wasn't raining we had planned to check out a city we haven't been to yet, but I think those trips may be few and far between this fall and winter because of the weather.

By the time we got back we were both pooped and just watched some shows on TV.

Sunday: This was a day of cleaning. We cleaned pretty much the entire house most of the day. A good time to catch up on laundry and everything else that seemed to be falling behind. At the end of the day we sat down to eat and watch a show when all of a sudden the fire alarm in our stairwell went off…again. It goes off every now and then and is too loud to keep watching TV, so we paused our show and just ate. There have been so many false alarms, we don't even get up and go outside anymore. Normally the fire truck comes pretty quick and the firemen check out the building and turn off the alarm. Tonight I think they wanted to finish dinner before they came out, because it took over 40 minutes for them to arrive and turn off the alarm…talk about annoying. If there would have been a fire, the entire building would have been only ashes by the time they arrived. I guess that is government efficiency at its best.

Today was also Veteran's Day. It's a little different serving in the military in another country. I think at the best of times the relationships between the U.S. military and the host country it is occupying is cordial. There are always going to be a percentage of the population that thinks of the U.S. presence in their country as everything from a hassle or nuisance to an actual occupying force that is not welcome. Here in Germany the relations are OK, but there are still a lot of people that do not want us here. We are encouraged to not wear our uniform outside of the post. We are also encouraged to blend in as much as possible. With that said, Veteran's Day here in Germany is basically a non-event. We do get a four day weekend out of the deal, but that is about it. There are the posts on Facebook, but that is pretty much the extent of the holiday here. In the states there are parades, free food at participating restaurants, and a grateful nation. I'm not complaining that I'm here in Europe, just noting the differences.

Monday: Today I was going to meet a guy I went to high school with for lunch. It turns out that he lives here in Heidelberg and is not in the military. I was planning on finding out the rest of his story during lunch, but right before he was about to come his wife went into labor…LOL. I guess I'll have to wait on having lunch with him for a while now.

My wife and I instead decided to try a Chinese restaurant called "China Town Restaurant" we heard about downtown. The place was actually pretty decent, which has been hard to find here in Germany. We then spent the rest of the day walking around downtown and doing some Christmas shopping. 

I'm going to miss Heidelberg once we do get moved. The downtown is always fun to visit, the architecture is awesome, there are plenty of stores for all tastes, and there are enough restaurants to keep you busy all day and then some.

The weekend in general was pretty laid back. A lot of Christmas shopping was done, but that was about it. We have big plans for the Thanksgiving day holiday and we also plan to visit a lot of the Christmas markets that we have heard so much about. So I'm hoping I have a little more to write about in these upcoming weekends!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Lone Ranger - (Germany) Day 317

The 43rd Signal Battalion Insignia in our office, I'll be so happy when
it stands down and is no longer, which will happen as they shut down Heidelberg. 

This morning we did not have PT, instead we formed up at 0730 for accountability and then pretty much the entire office left for the range. I headed back home and then went into the office at the normal time with one other person. It was strange only having two people in the entire office. Both of us are on profile and cannot wear the body armor and helmet that is required when firing at the range which is why we stayed back. I did my schoolwork and my coworker watched youtube videos the entire morning.

At lunch time I picked up my wife and headed home. She had to do some work on PHV, so we had lunch together. I then headed back to the office and was the only person there for a couple hours. My coworker had to drive the chaplain to Landstuhl today. It was between him and myself, and because I've done it before, he got the honors this time. My boss came back at around 1500 and gave me some not so wonderful news. Because of some staffing issues, I have to do staff duty tonight. Because of this I was able to leave and head home to pick up some supplies and my laptop. I was a little pissed, it really sucks only getting an hour and a half notice that you have to work until 0900 the next morning! 

I headed home and grabbed all the necessities and then headed back into the office. I have staff duty with SGT Mex, so it shouldn't be too bad. We also have another sergeant in our office (who I'll call SGT Steroids) who got an article 15 and received extra duty. The regulations state the an NCO's extra duty is only supervisory duty, but the CSM (Command Sergeant Major) here said that is BS, and all NCOs will have to do normal extra duty just like any other soldier if they get into trouble. I couldn't believe my ears, something that actually made sense! So SGT Steroids is at staff duty as well and was given a laundry list of items that he has to do all weekend long. Everything from dusting the office to raking leaves outside. I think all he did the entire night tonight though was dust a desk or two while chatting with SGT Mex. 

I spent the night just reading on my iPad, or surfing the web. Surprisingly I didn't watch any movies or even listen to music. There was too much conversation going on, which I guess can be a good thing because the night passed by pretty quick. SGT Mex had a lot to say now that he is officially getting out of the army. It's interesting hearing his perspective on things. All I can say is that I wish it were me getting out as well. 

Tomorrow starts a 4-day weekend for veteran's day. I'll be sleeping for the start of it, but I'm looking forward to the rest of it even though we do not have any major plans yet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bad News - (Germany) Day 316

Taken on the way to work outside of PHV, this is a typical sight in Germany,
it seems they have solar panels all over the place!

This morning I woke up to our home phone ringing and I jumped out of bed thinking that I somehow missed a morning formation or something. Why would our house phone be ringing at 0500 in the morning? It turned out to be my father-in-law back in the states, and unfortunately the news was bad. My wife's grandma had passed away. Stuff like this has actually been my worst nightmare since joining the army and being stationed overseas. If anything serious happens, then I'm stuck half a world away…helpless. It really sucks, and I hope each day that I will not get the call I got today. I woke my wife and let her talk to her dad, then we just laid in bed for a while until I had to actually get ready for PT.

PT this morning had everyone head to the gym and workout. It was starting to rain, so it made sense. Everyone was just turned loose to work on whatever they wanted, kind of like what I do every day. Today was my cardio day, so I rode the stationary bike as usual.

This morning at the office I headed straight to the maintenance side and hopped on a computer. I started right away on my schoolwork, spending most of the morning working on it. I also got an email requesting a time for my clearance interview. I was just thinking to myself yesterday that it sure had been a long time. They've been interviewing my friends and family back in the states for quite a while now. All that is left is my interview and then the interview of my co-workers. We settled on a date next week. I'm curious how this interview will go, I am picturing in my head the scene from "Meet the Parents" where Robert De Niro grabs Ben Stiller's hands and does the human lie detector on him. I guess we'll see.

I headed home for lunch just for a quick break and to brush my teeth, I then headed to our dental office which is located on PHV. I had to get an old filling taken out and replaced. I really hate the dentist, but this visit was tolerable. They made it pretty quick, gave me some shots to numb me up, then after a minute started drilling away the old filling. I was a little nervous that everything hadn't numbed up all the way, but was pleasantly surprised that it was quick acting. When he was finished drilling away, he tag teamed another person in to do the new filling. It sucked having to keep my mouth open so wide for so long with several people's hands in it, but they did a good job placing the new filling and then I was out of there.

I headed back to my house to actually eat some lunch. I had to eat very slow as half my face was still numb and I didn't want to bite my cheek either. It was a strange experience, that's for sure. I headed back to the office after I finished and ended up there around 1400. At this time the place seemed to be very full of people. The maintenance side was taking out items they were throwing away, they have been in the process of cleaning up and getting ready for the closing of the post. They are staying ahead of the game I guess, they have been shredding manuals and any other paperwork they find on their side of the office. The place is starting to look a little empty. They've used the shredder so much it's starting to die, I think that may be the last piece of equipment they take to the dump!

I ended up on a computer on our side of the office and surfed the net for a bit until it was time to clean up. I found out my boss will be leaving to Mannheim sometime soon after Thanksgiving. I also heard they are moving forward with SGT Mex's separation and he will be out of the army shortly after that…depending on how fast all the paperwork moves. One thing is for certain, there is going to be a lot of changes coming.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Time to Pee - (Germany) Day 315

Our recycle and garbage area for our stairwell has received two warnings.
I guess the new family in our stairwell doesn't know how to recycle properly.
If we get another one, I think there may be consequences...I just don't know
what those are yet. They take their recycling seriously here in Germany.

This morning for PT everyone ended up heading to the gym. One thing I really like about being on profile is that even when everyone heads to the gym, those of us on profile head straight there after accountability. Everyone else has to stand in formation, wait a bit, then finally do organized stretching and warm up drills. By the time everyone else arrived to the gym, I had already been working out for a while. As far as workouts go, I did my normal weight machine routine working on my core, arms and back.

At work today we had a few people out for their building's fall cleanup. We didn't do much in the office for the first part of the day, I checked my email and surfed the web. I heard a rumor that we were going to have a pee test after lunch, which I was happy to catch wind of before it happened. I usually end up going pee right after lunch, that would have left me sitting there with an empty bladder drinking water waiting to go again.

I took lunch in my car as usual with my book, my music, and a nap. When I got back in the office people started showing up. People said they were called and told there was a mandatory meeting they had to attend. When everyone arrived we were told we were having a pee test and everyone here was selected on a "random" basis to get tested. I put random in quotes because our tests are never random, they always to 100%. So people that had the day off, or had to work the night shift, all had to come in for this special event.

I was one of the first to go, and was able to finish the process of peeing in a cup while an NCO watched. It used to seem a little strange, but I've kind of become used to it by now. The entire process starts with me taking an empty cup to the bathroom while holding it above my head. I then go pee in it, making sure to fill it about 3/4 of the way. I then put the lid back on and carry it back out to the official table…all the while holding it above my head. I guess this eliminates the possibility of anything contaminating the sample. I was told that my sample "looks like watered down apple juice". I wasn't sure how to take that…..thanks I guess?

Anyway I then chatted with folks while everyone else made their way through the line. The last guy ended up taking a couple hours before he could manage to produce his sample. A lot of drinking water and pacing around. The rules stated that you could not leave for the day until you produced a sample.

That was the highlight of the day…watching someone watch me take a pee. The only other things I did all day was surf the web and talk to my boss about the new iPad mini. I also heard that indeed SGT Mex is going to get kicked out of the army, we just don't know how long the process is going to take. No word on when or where I'll be moving to, but I did hear that there will be a meeting concerning everyone's future on the 16th. Maybe we'll hear something after that.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall Cleanup - (Germany) Day 314

The results of our fall cleanup for our building. Lots of junk and a bunch
of bags full of leaves.  This pickup spot is located on our neighboring
building's curb...they haven't cleaned up their leaves yet.

This morning for PT I headed to the gym as usual with the profiles. I'm not sure what the normal folks did since we left before they got started, but today is normally a cardio day. Speaking of cardio...I had a pretty good cardio workout on the stationary bike.

Work call this morning was actually in front of my building at 0900 instead of the office. This week is fall cleanup, with each building coordinating with their tenants to work one of the days. My building happened to be today. It's not actually a bad thing, I don't have to leave the house early and I get to wear civilian clothes. I met up with our supreme building commander (not sure what his actual title is, but he is the highest ranking in our building…so he is the guy in charge). All of PHV is slowly starting to shrink in terms of population and our building is no exception to this. At one end of the building there is only one family living in the stairwell, which can hold six families. In my stairwell there are four families and at the other end I believe there 5, for a total of 10 families in a building that can hold 18. Out of the 10 families, only 3 people showed up for the cleanup at first. About half way through a couple more showed up to help.

We started by just taking a walk through the attic areas and the basement areas of our building. The common areas are places which seem to attract junk that people just leave after they PCS. Our supreme building commander asked if any of the stuff laying around was ours, but nobody claimed it. He wants to make sure the stuff is not somebody's that is living here before he tosses it. We did haul out a few items we could tell were just junk (i.e. a broken mirror). Everything was placed next to the curb for pickup by someone else.

We were then given a rake or a large broom to start cleaning up around our building. I took a rake, put in my headphones and started making big piles of leaves while rocking out, not a bad way to spend the day…in fact much better than sitting in the office, sitting in a chair, looking at a wall. Once we finally completed all the sweeping and raking, we were given a bunch of large bags to put all the debris in. Once all the bags were full and taken to the curb with all the other junk, we were finished. 

I headed to my house and ate lunch. I then took a nap on my couch, much better than my car LOL. I then did schoolwork for a while, taking advantage of the extra time I have and waited for my wife to get home from work. One other item of note, I was introduced to a band called Rock Sugar, a very unique band that does a mash up of songs that I grew up on. It's very strange to hear the lyrics of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" sang to Metallica's "Enter Sandman". You can check out their facebook page here. Not a bad day, we got a lot of stuff done and I only had to work half of a day.


Here's the video for Rock Sugar's "Don't Stop The Sandman"




Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up - (Germany) Day 312 & 313

The streetlights in Germany give you a warning and light up both red and yellow
before they turn green so you can start revving up your engine and take off.

I'm not even going to break up this weekend into days, because nothing of note even happened. The rainy soggy weather kind of hindered any plans we had of going anywhere. We are also trying to save money for our Thanksgiving trip to England. The highlight of the entire weekend was taking the car to Patton Barracks to get the oil changed. That is one thing that is a little different living overseas and having a car. The choices for service are kind of limited and you can't work on your car in the parking lot, not even an oil change. Other than that we pretty much stayed indoors and either cleaned or watched TV and movies. I would have liked to do something a little more spectacular, but it just didn't happen.

Friday, November 2, 2012

MRI - (Germany) Day 311

A photo of the main entrance to the Landstuhl hospital, the largest military
hospital outside of the states.

This morning for PT we had a battalion run. In the past this has meant that we all show up very early and stand around in formation for a half hour to 45 minutes before doing anything. Today it was a little better, we formed up and got started pretty quickly. In the past profiles would usually go for a walk, but this time they just told profiles to get on the bus (that brought the folks from Landstuhl) and sit because there was a light rain. I may be on profile, but I still like to get some sort of a workout in. I headed to the gym instead after talking with my boss and used the weight machines to workout my core and back mostly. By the time I was finished the battalion run was done, and they had already made all their little speeches, so I just headed home.

Today was Days of Excellence. Everyone headed there instead of work for a day full of speeches, some boring PowerPoint shows, and some promotions. I was lucky enough to have an appointment in Landstuhl for an MRI at 1130. I left a little after 0900 just in case there was traffic and also because I'm supposed to arrive a half hour early…and also partly because I didn't want to spend any time at the Days of Excellence.

I arrived without issue and was able to find the MRI office after wandering around the hospital for a while. The "Landstuhl Regional Medical Center" as it is officially called, is actually the largest military hospital outside of the U.S. It's also where wounded soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are treated. This really hit home as I was walking down a hall and was passed by a soldier in a wheelchair with only one leg. 

Once in the MRI office, I filled out a quick questionnaire answering questions like "do I have any foreign objects inside my body". I only had to sit for a couple minutes before heading back to the changing room. I had to take off everything except my pants, socks and shirt. This includes any jewelry, my watch, my belt and so on. I then was escorted into the scanner room where they explained the entire process to me. If you're claustrophobic, then you would definitely have some issues. I laid down on the table and was given an emergency ball to squeeze if I needed them to stop and let me out. I was also given earplugs to put in. I was told to lay as still as possible as they perform the scan, then I was slid into the small tube where the process started. Even with the earplugs in, it was still pretty loud. There were sounds ranging from different sounding tones, to what sounded like a generator running. They told me the process would last about 15 minutes and it would be OK if I fell asleep, I'm not sure if I could sleep during the process, but the time did go by pretty quick. When finished I was told the results would be available to my provider in 2 to 3 days. The scan was done of my neck, and I'm hoping they can find out what is causing all the headaches I constantly have. On a good day I feel like I'm on the verge of having a headache, but on the bad days I have terrible headaches that really make it hard to do much of anything. The average day is a minor headache. The profile I'm on keeps me from doing stuff that turns that average headache into a major headache. I'm hoping that perhaps the MRI will show something and there can be actions taken to improve my situation.

I headed out to my car and had my lunch break in it. I was hungry and wanted to eat before I made the drive back to Heidelberg. On my drive back SGT Mex gave me a call and said that the work day was over, so I could just head home…very cool. I headed home and did some maintenance on my various home computers. This is the only actual real 25B (Information Technology) work that I have ended up doing since joining the army…working on my own computers.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gloom & Doom - (Germany) Day 310

In the process of cleaning coolers, coffee pots and coffee dispensers
for our lazy ass S-3 office

This morning for PT those not on profile did circuit training, which is basically going from station to station doing a different exercise. I headed to the gym with the other profiles and rode my stationary bike for a cardio workout.

At the office today we had sergeant's time training of course…it's Thursday. SGT Mex gave a class on using SKLs (Simple Key Loaders, the devices we load our encryption keys on). Like most classes we have though, we are limited with resources. SGT Mex had one working SKL that he demonstrated with, but with the screen the size of an iPhone, it's kind of hard for everyone in the room to have an idea of what he's talking about. He did a good job with the resources he was given. We then learned about some legacy equipment that predated the SKL, which I'm surprised we even wasted the time on. There were a couple of NCOs that came into our office and both said the same thing when they saw this ancient equipment, they hadn't seen this stuff in years! 

The next class was going over a message that was sent out by 5th Signal Command concerning 2013 training schedule and expectations. One of our NCOs went over the entire message with everyone in attendance. The NCO would pause after each paragraph or point in the message and let our platoon sergeant chime in and give his two cents on each subject. Most of it pertained to everyone excelling and doing their best. Some of it had to do with the downsizing of the army and this is where our platoon sergeant went into full swing about how horrible it is to be a civilian now. If we leave the security blanket of the army, nobody will hire us, veterans have it the worst in the U.S., we will regret it every minute and wish we could get back in. He then goes on to say how we have to not get into trouble and even exceed every standard to make sure we can stay in and not get kicked out. All this doom and gloom may work on the younger kids, but I've been around. It's all scare tactics to try and either motivate people to do better, or just to keep them from screwing up.

By the time the message was finished, it was time for lunch. I headed to my car as usual for music, my book, and a nap. After lunch it was full on destruction time, just like the start of every other month. I was shredding like crazy, printing out new inventory lists and inventorying our safes.

SPC Mac was told he had a "setup detail" and to report to S-3. He came back a bit later very pissed off and I can't blame him. Our lovely S-3 office, which has a full staff of enlisted soldiers in all ranks, told him to clean their coffee pots. This was the actual mission! Make sure he gets them really clean!! I would be freakin' embarrassed to ask for a person to perform a detail and then have them clean out my coffee pots that I use every day. In addition to the coffee pots they told him to clean out some coolers and some larger coffee dispensers. I could only laugh. Only in the freakin' army can you be pulled from your normal job to go to another office and clean their coffee pots because they're too damned lazy to do it themselves. Of course this is the same office that has the staff duty folks do their janitorial work for them. So SPC Mac brought all the crap back over to our office because we had a large water faucet outside, as well as larger sinks in the bathroom. I felt bad for him, so me and a couple other guys gave him a hand cleaning the stuff. I have to say that I had to restrain myself from taking a piss in the coffee pots.

This whole day was just another day why I have no desire to stay in the army any longer than I have to. All I can say is I'm now one day closer to getting out.