Monday, December 30, 2013

Not Going Anywhere - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 205

This morning I sent my squad leader a text “MOU Today”, then headed off to the naval shipyard in Bremerton. There was only one gate open and traffic was backed up similar to last Friday, so I just turned around and headed back home. I’m not going to wait in traffic for over an hour just to sit in an empty office and surf the web. It would be different if it were a real job, but it definitely isn’t worth it to just surf the web…or do a SkillPort if I was feeling motivated.

When I arrived back at home I made use of my extra time to do my schoolwork for the day. I then hung out with my son for the rest of the day since he stayed back after his sisters left. I took him to the mall where he could spend his cash and gift cards he received from Christmas gifts. On the way there I received a call from my NCM. She said I had an appointment at the pain clinic on the 2nd at 0900. That was a pretty quick turnaround. I’m hoping the pain clinic can come up with anything that will help me deal with the chronic pain I deal with on a daily basis. Anything would be better than what I’m doing now, which is just dealing with it and using my pain medications sparingly.

My son and I came back home, ate lunch, then I educated him all about the Seattle SuperSonics and the dynamic duo of Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton. There were a number of highlights and even a documentary on YouTube.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 203 & 204

Saturday we had a big Christmas party at our house. We had the kids over and celebrated our Christmas with them as well as my extended family and my wife’s extended family. This is the first large get together we’ve had at our house and it turned out pretty well. Everyone had a blast opening presents and hanging out.

Sunday we headed up to my in-laws house as usual and we watched the Seahawks beat the Rams in the final league game. Winning gave us home field advantage through the playoffs. What an exciting season!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Backup - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 202

This morning I didn’t text anyone because my squad leader and platoon sergeant are still on leave, I don’t have anyone else’s number. I don’t think there is hardly anyone even at formation anyway. I headed into the naval shipyard in Bremerton only to find traffic backed up way into the city. The navy base only has one gate open for the holidays because I guess a lot of people take block leave during this time. The problem is that there is still quite a few people trying to get in and the backup was just crazy. Traffic lights would change, but there would be no movement. I just turned around and went home. I’m not going to wait for hours in this stupid traffic just to go into a building where only a few people are working, then sit at my desk and surf the web for an entire day…no way!

When I got back home I spent the time watching some college basketball and then working on my schoolwork. I figured I’ll be a lot more productive at home than I would have if I chose to work with the navy today.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Back to Ft. Lewis - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 201

At Madigan near the WTB clinic. No description or anything around it, 
but I thought it was pretty cool

This morning our morning formation wasn’t until 0800, but I had an appointment at 0800 with my NCM so I just headed straight to my appointment. The actual appointment went as planned. I answered all the usual questions and nothing is really new. My NCM wanted me to give her a call later on today and let her know how my appointment with my PCM goes. I headed to my car, ate breakfast, and then pulled my blanket up over me and took a long nap.

I made my way up a little early for my PCM appointment. This place is dead today. The parking lot is half empty and there is hardly anyone wandering around the hospital because of the holidays. There was nobody at the WTB clinic, so I was let in early to see my PCM. I asked her about alternative solutions such as massage therapy, chiropractic and acupuncture, because I am really ready to give anything a try. I know massage therapy will help because when my wife massages my tight shoulders and neck, I always feel better. I have constant chronic pain and it’s really keeping me from actually enjoying life. When my head is killing me, I don’t want to do much of anything! My PCM said all of that is done through the pain clinic and she’ll put in another referral for me to see them. I had a referral before, but the pain clinic wanted me to see neurology before I saw them. Now that I’ve finished with neurology, I can now see them. I also had my PCM give me refills for my pain medications. Usually I have a few left by the time I see her, but I’ve been completely out for a couple days now.

I went down to the pharmacy after our appointment and picked up my refills. I then headed home and did schoolwork. Once finished with the schoolwork I just laid down on the couch. I feel like my head and neck are still in a very fragile state, it seems like it doesn’t take much to trigger a lot of pain for me. Laying down on the couch with the heating pad and taking it very easy seems to help somewhat.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Break - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 199 & 200

For Christmas break we got both Christmas Eve & Christmas off, which is awesome! Unfortunately my wife had to work Christmas Eve, so she left early in the morning while I slept in. When I did get up and eat breakfast, I cleaned up the house a bit and then did schoolwork. I love lazy days every now and then. My wife did get off early and we headed to her parents house for a while. We then went to my brother-in-law’s parents house for a Christmas Eve tradition of dinner and opening presents. I’ve missed out on this being away in the army. It got to the point where Christmas was just another day when I was stationed away from home. I couldn’t get into the Christmas spirit at all, I didn’t care for any of it! I’m just super glad to be back home and back to normal. My sister’s in-laws are awesome people and it’s always fun to eat and hang out there.

On Christmas day we headed to my in-law’s and ate breakfast, then opened presents. Later on in the day we headed out to my aunt and uncle’s house for Christmas with the extended family. It’s always good to see aunts, uncles, and cousins. We had a big turkey dinner and did all the present opening. It sure is a lot of fun watching all the nieces and nephews opening presents! My kids unfortunately spent Christmas with their mom, because I had them for Thanksgiving. So we collected up their presents and took them back with us. We’ll celebrate Christmas with them this Saturday. Even without the kiddos I thoroughly enjoyed Christmas this year. I’m so glad to be back home!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Home Early - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 198

This morning I headed off to the naval shipyard in Bremerton without sending a text to anyone. My platoon sergeant informed me that he is going on leave. My guess is that there is probably hardly anyone even at the morning formation anyway during the holidays. When I arrived at my office, there was nobody there and hardly anyone in the building at all. I did the usual checking army and navy emails and then surfing the web until 1100. I decided to just go home at 1100, I’m still in quite a bit of pain in my neck, shoulders, and head. This month has actually been a pretty bad month for pain. I can usually just deal with the chronic pain I have, but it seems to have stepped up a bit and I’ve been feeling it.

At home I took my pain meds and laid down on the heating pad for a while. I did get up for a while and worked on my schoolwork for the day. I then took it easy getting back down on the heating pad off and on for the rest of the day.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 196 & 197

This weekend consisted of a lot of last minute Christmas shopping on Saturday. We got pretty much everything done and then wrapped…well I should say that I watched and occasionally helped with a finger here and there while my wife expertly wrapped all the presents. She does an outstanding job!

Sunday we all headed to my in-laws to watch the Seahawks play and unfortunately lose to Arizona. Even with the loss, it’s still a lot of fun hanging out with the in-laws, watching and cheering during the game, and then eating with them.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Beginning To Look A Lot Like Winter - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 195

This morning I sent a text to my platoon sergeant “FYI: I will be at my MOU with the navy again today”. I don’t usually text him, but I had his number from a previous text and my squad leader is on leave. There is snow on the ground, but I received a text from the navy stating that all the bases are open and operating normally. So I headed off to the naval shipyard in Bremerton. When I arrived, I proceeded with my normal morning ritual and checked both army and navy emails, then surfed the web for a while.

With the snow and the holidays near it seemed like there was almost nobody in the building. I surfed the web until lunchtime, but decided to leave for the day at lunch. I took my lunch home and ate it, did my schoolwork and then took it easy just laying down on the couch with the heating pad under my neck and shoulders. Living with chronic pain really sucks!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

One Bad Step - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 194

Now that I have my platoon sergeant’s number I sent him my morning text “FYI: I will be at my MOU with the navy again today”. I then headed back into the naval shipyard in Bremerton for today’s “work”. I started off as usual checking my army and navy email. My army email usually doesn’t have much, perhaps two or three a week, but I do receive items from the WTB, so I have to make sure there is nothing waiting for me such as my checklist. The army email is checked via a web page using Outlook Web Access. My navy email also doesn’t get a lot, usually a few each day of which most are group emails sent to everyone. As mentioned in an earlier post when I surf the web I always start with a quick check on AKO checking out myMEB/PEB status. I’ll try and post numbers up once a week, or at least once a month so you can see how things progress. Here is my status as of today:

212 days remaining
Start Date: 6/26/2013
Goal Finish Date: 4/17/2014
Estimated Finish Date (No Appeal): 6/30/2014
Estimated Finish Date (W/ Appeal): 7/19/2014

My current step in the process is VA Ratings. My actual time waiting for ratings is 114 days. The army average is 146.80 days. Current days until I reach the army average is 32.80.

Nothing new with those numbers, so I continued to surf the web for a while reading the headlines from around the world and locally. I then found out my legacy system account is now setup and active. I logged into the legacy system at my desk. I was then shown what server to connect the event viewer to and what logs I’ll be looking at. I save the settings so I’ll be able to get back to that easily next time, because they are going to show me what I will need to do at a later date…probably after the holidays.

One of the lady’s in another office brought back all the required paperwork for the machines that we will be getting rid of. This is all the equipment we cleaned out of the SIPR room. The process to get rid of it is called DRMO which stands for Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office. Everything gets shipped off somewhere else, where they decide what to actually do with all the crap. Everyone here just says “dermo” sounding out the acronym when talking about the whole process.

I had lunch at my desk. I have to mention that I am always only one step away from being in a lot of pain for a long period of time. Usually my pain comes and goes, there are certain triggers that can make it worse. Last night I made one misstep where I didn’t see a curb and stepped off of it, which was a slight jarring experience. Before I had any issues back when I was a young lad something like this would never even be cause for a second thought. I knew then that it was going to cause me some serious pain these days though. The funny thing is that the pain just starts to continually build up like a snowball rolling down a mountain. I could feel the muscles in by upper back, shoulders and neck start to tighten up as the night went on. By the end of the night my neck and head were in some serious pain. I took a muscle relaxer to ensure a good night’s sleep, but I was still in quite a bit of pain all day today. I decided to leave at lunch for the day and go home to lay down on my couch with the heating pad on my back and neck after taking some pain medication.

After a while of resting and falling in and out of sleep, I got up and did my schoolwork for the day. I then continued to take it easy laying down and using the heating pad throughout the night. Usually I’m pretty careful about where and how I walk because I’m always only one bad step away from being in a lot of pain for a long time…it sucks!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More SkillPort - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 193

The wind was blowing so hard today that tree branches actually 
shut down a road on base for a bit

My squad leader is on leave, so I didn’t send a text to anyone this morning. I headed into the naval shipyard in Bremerton and did my usual routine checking my army and navy email, then surfing the web a bit. I then started a SkillPort course. I have my headphones with me, listening to the course instead of just reading everything makes it a little more interesting.

I ate lunch in the office today, then continued working on the SkillPort course until I finished it. I then got a text from my platoon sergeant telling me that I need to complete a required survey. He sent the website and the code to enter. The survey was a combination of multiple choice and then short answers. The survey was mostly about our attitude and what we think about the army in the context of sexual and racial harassment. It took about a half hour to finish, I then sent a text to my platoon sergeant letting him know I had completed it.

I then surfed the web for a while. I found out that I’ll finally be setup with a user account on what they call the “legacy” system here with the navy. I will be taught how to do “server checks” tomorrow…sounds like I may finally be able to do something on a regular basis.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Surfing and Inventory - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 192

This morning I was going to send a text to my squad leader, but he sent me a text last night stating he is now on leave until the 28th. I don’t have any other numbers, so I didn’t text anyone. I headed into the naval shipyard in Bremerton and did my normal routine checking army and navy emails and then surfing the web for a bit. I then started a SkillPort course. I now bring in my headphones so the courses are at least a little more interesting because they read everything to you.

We had a morning meeting that included a video conference with all the other local bases I.T. departments. It was basically our director telling us what the future looks like for the department. Now that congress has finally created a budget and it looks like it will pass, everything looks like it’s back to normal for our department. All planned items are back on track and they plan to replace 7 open positions they have right now.

After the meeting I was able to complete my SkillPort course. I did a little more random web surfing and then had lunch at my desk. I was told that the backup tapes we brought back from the SIPR room cleanup will be destroyed along with the hard drives. So I had to do a simple inventory of the tapes showing how many of each brand we had. I then moved the boxes of tapes along with the hard drive to another office. The guy in this office is the one who will do the final paperwork and ship them all off to the NSA for destruction.

I surfed the web for the rest of the day until 1500 when I left. When I got home I did my schoolwork and then took it easy.

Monday, December 16, 2013

NCM & Pharmacy - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 191

This morning I had to wake up early and head into Ft. Lewis. I put on my ACUs and left at 0445. I don’t mind the actual commute at all, but paying a toll and paying for gas kind of sucks. Mentally I always get a bit depressed anytime I have to head into Ft. Lewis though. I’ve already mentally checked out of the army a long time ago and anytime I have to put on the uniform and head into Ft. Lewis I get a little down. Morning formation went by semi-quickly, those of us in ACUs who had appointments fell out behind the formation and an NCO checked with each one of us asking what our appointment was for. I guess they have to baby sit everyone like that or else nobody would stay for PT. I’m glad they didn’t ask for an appointment sheet though because this appointment isn’t even on the one I have.

After formation I headed back to my car and ate breakfast. At 0800 I had my NCM appointment and we went over all the usual weekly questions. Nothing has changed and I don’t need anything extra. After the appointment I headed to the SFAC to check my army email and pass the time until the pharmacy opened up at 0900. I headed over to the hospital pharmacy and picked up a refill for my muscle relaxers. I use these anytime I have pain before going to sleep. They pretty much knock me out and help me sleep through the night without any interruptions from pain.

My neck has been pretty sore lately, all I want to do most of the time is just lay down on my back and rest it. Right now I don’t want to waste the time here, I just want to get out of here ASAP. I made a quick stop by the commissary and grabbed a few things, then headed home. The only nice thing about going into Ft. Lewis is that I’m usually back home by a decent hour and have the rest of the day to do whatever I want. I did my schoolwork first, then just had a lazy day around the house…watching a college basketball game and then miscellaneous items on TV. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 189 & 190

On Saturday I took the family to see a University of Washington Huskies Men’s basketball game. We headed to Seattle and had a quick snack at a Safeway before the game and then headed to the campus and watched the game. I’ve only been to the stadium once before about 20 years ago. During that visit I came with a friend of mine who was a sports photographer for the local paper. He got a press pass for me and gave me a camera to take pictures on the floor of the court. That was an amazing experience. Today was the first time I’ve sat in the stands. While not as good as actually being on the floor to watch the game, these seats were near half court, but 3/4 of the way to the nose bleed section. Still we all had a great view of the game and everyone had a fun time. I wanted my kids to see the difference between what a junior college basketball game and a division 1 basketball game is like. The Huskies beat Idaho State which was also a plus!

After the game we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory for a special dinner. It was an expensive day, when you do everything times 5 it can get spendy, but I think the experience was worth it.

Sunday was of course watching Seahawks at my in-laws. This is always fun, especially when the Seahawks win…and do a great job while doing it. We beat up on the NY Giants pretty easily. It’s an exciting time to be a Seahawks fan!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Loose Screws! - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 188

The admiral and her dog came to visit along with a 5 piece band to play holiday songs

I received a text from my squad leader last night stating that he’ll be on leave until the 28th. With him on leave I figured I should text someone, but I don’t have anyone else’s number, so I just didn’t text anyone. I headed into the naval shipyard in Bremerton. My morning routine was changed a bit because there is an issue with internet access, or I should say lack of internet access. I could only check my navy email via outlook. With no internet, I can’t check my army email which I do through outlook web access. I also can’t check my MEB status or read the news. Now what do I do? I use my iPhone to pass the time.

After a short period everyone is told to gather in a central portion of the building. The regional commander came to visit us. She’s an admiral and she brought her dog (in uniform) and a five piece naval band. The band played a few Christmas songs and then she went around and shook everyone’s hands while wishing us all a merry Christmas. It was a nice gesture and kind of cool. She then left with her dog and five piece band to visit another building. Later our director came around with a Santa bag full of presents and handed out a small present to each of us. I got a box of candy (chocolate covered nuts…which my son later found and ate them all…lol)

I brought in my own screwdriver to get the cases off a few hard drives that I was unable to yesterday with the tiny screwdriver I was given. I had a lot more success with my bigger screwdriver…mission complete! I then completed my inventory spreadsheet for the hard drives and emailed them off to the lady who is doing all the paperwork for everything to be turned in.

I then checked and the internet was working once again. I was now able to use it to pass the time and surf the web. While checking my army email I found that I had a self assessment due for the WTB. The self assessments have me rate the same questions each time with three options which are variations of no problem, minor problem, big problem. The questions range from my satisfaction with my housing to my medical treatment. Any answer other than the no problem requires an additional statement in the comments section. The only two that I always have to comment on are “are my medications working” and “am I still in pain” both comments are usually the same and usually end up something like “my medications do dull the pain, but do not remove it completely”. I can only wish that there were a magic pill to take away all the pain completely.

I left for the day at lunchtime, I went to have lunch with my wife at home because she only worked half a day as well. We both then made the trip to Sultan and watched my daughter’s basketball game. We brought all the kiddos home with us for the weekend. I’m so happy to be able to see them again on a regular basis, that was the one big thing that really got me down while being away from them during my time in Korea and then Europe.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Moving Day Complete - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 187

A look at all the hard drives I have been working on today

Sent a text to my squad leader this morning “MOU Today”, then head into the sub base outside of Silverdale. I continue with my morning routine of checking my army and navy emails, then surfed the web for a while. At about 0830 or so my co-worker and I headed back to the classified (SIPR) server room along with another co-worker that brought the TMP from Bremerton. We all headed down there and finished cleaning up the rest of the SIPR server room. There was a couple KVM switches still in the racks that we took out along with a bunch of keyboards, mice, and other scraps that we loaded into boxes. We took out a few loads of just trash and cardboard to the dumpsters before filling the TMP once again with the remaining items from the room.

We headed to the naval shipyard in Bremerton and took a lunch break. I headed to my car and ate lunch. We then all unloaded the TMP and proceeded to bring everything into our office. Once the TMP was unloaded I was tasked with removing the cases from all the hard drives. Even though I had done this while in the SIPR server room yesterday, there were a number of hard drives already in our office that needed to be destroyed. So I used a tiny screwdriver that I was given and proceeded to unscrew drive after drive. Once I finished I created a spreadsheet and started the process of logging each drive’s make, model and serial number into the spreadsheet. Hard drives require a little more paperwork before they can be sent off, but just getting rid of all this stuff is a red tape nightmare.

I spent the end of my shift chatting with a co-worker before leaving. I then headed home and did schoolwork.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Moving Day - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 186

A look in our office behind my desk showing most of the computer equipment we moved

This morning I sent my squad leader a text “MOU Today”, then headed to the naval shipyard in Bremerton today. I checked my army and navy email, then logged out pretty quickly. Two co-workers and I took a TMP and headed to the sub base outside of Silverdale. Once there we headed to a building I guess the IT department once occupied with their SIPR (classified network) server room. The server room was similar to the vault we had at our ComSec office in Germany. A large door with a combination lock on it keeps everyone out except authorized personnel. There is another department or contractors that want to make use of the room, but we still had quite a bit of old equipment and other various “stuff” in the room. From what I can tell there were some that held on to the hope that "if we left stuff in there, we could keep a claim on the room"…guess that didn’t work, but now my 2 co-workers and I have to clean it all up.

We first had to remove all the hard drives from the servers, and I removed all the hard drives from their server cases which involved a lot of taking out little screws. We then loaded the servers and a few desktops into the TMP. We ended up filling up the TMP with mostly hardware, but quickly realized we’re going to have to make another trip out here another day. We drove to the security manager’s office at the sub base and had him secure the classified hard drives in his big safe along with a couple spindles of classified CDs. He will destroy the CDs and do whatever needs to be done to destroy the hard drives.

We then drove back to the naval shipyard in Bremerton. Once there we took a break for lunch, then started to unload everything that was left. We brought it all into our office cart by cart. The office is starting to look full again with all this stuff. Now we have to have another person start all the required paperwork that needs to be done in order to get rid of everything. I guess the director has been trying to have this done for a while and nobody has done anything about it for a very long time. I’m glad I could help.

I spent the remaining of the day surfing the web, then left for home to do some schoolwork.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Half Day - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 185

This morning I sent a text to my squad leader “MOU Today”, then headed into the sub base outside of Silverdale. This morning my morning routine seemed a bit like it was in slow motion. I checked my army and navy email as usual, but everything I did seemed to take quite a bit of effort. For some reason I just felt extremely tired, it’s like somebody played a joke on me and switched my caffeinated coffee to decaffeinated! After checking email part of my morning ritual is surfing the web. Before I do any random surfing I always check out my AKO page. On my AKO is a link for My MEB/PEB, this link takes me to a dashboard that shows my current status in the medboard process. I check it daily just to see if anything changes, here is what it has as of today:

212 days remaining
Start Date: 6/26/2013
Goal Finish Date: 4/17/2014
Estimated Finish Date (No Appeal): 6/22/2014
Estimated Finish Date (W/ Appeal): 7/10/2014

My current step in the process is VA Ratings. My actual time waiting for ratings is 105 days. The army average is 148.21 days. Current days until I reach the army average is 43.21.

There is more information, but that is the basics. I usually scan to see if anything has changed yet. My PEBLO told me when I submitted my paperwork that the average she has seen from Ft. Lewis is 4 months. Based on that I should be hearing something by the 20th of this month…10 days from now. I know I can’t hold her to that, but it’s just a date I’ve been looking at in my head for a while now.

I continued to surf the web and reading the daily news, but I’m so tired that I actually start getting more and more comfortable in my chair and before I knew it, I was asleep. I don’t think I was out too long, but as I was asleep in the chair my body jerked and I jumped up out of the chair. Of course my legs were completely under the desk, so when I jumped I hit the desk pretty hard which made a huge boom! I looked around and waited for somebody to say something, but luckily my cubical is situated so nobody can really see me. Nobody said anything, but the rush of adrenaline really woke me up…I was able to surf the web and read the news without falling asleep the rest of the day!

I proceeded to work and complete a SkillPort. When lunchtime came I left for the day. I ate lunch while driving to the ferry. I headed to Sultan to watch my son and then later my daughter play in their basketball games. I’m glad right now that I don’t have a normal job, because with my son in middle school, his games start at 1500. Luckily I can just tell the navy folks I have to leave at lunch and then go watch his games. Next year he’ll be in high school and will have the later games when I hopefully have a normal job. Seeing them both play really made my night…but it was a long night. I hung out with my son and younger daughter taking them out to eat while waiting for my oldest daughter’s game to start. After the game I headed home and didn’t arrive until 2220. Worth every minute though! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Back to Ft. Lewis - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 184

The line at the Starbucks on post can get long at times!

This morning I headed back into Ft. Lewis. I went to the morning formation in ACUs because I was told to see my NCM between 0800 - 1000, and if I have to choose it’s going to be 0800 so I don’t have to do the army PT and then change. The morning formation was extremely cold though and I have no cold weather gear at all. I had to turn in everything I had before I left Germany. Speaking of cold, 4 of us in my platoon had to head up to the company office to do some make up required army cold weather training. Just what I love…some of that great army training! The four of us sat down in the platoon sergeant’s office. One person was at the controls of the computer and brought up the cold weather PowerPoint presentation training. The guy controlling it just blew through all the slides…I’m talking about one page per second. There was barely time to read the headline let alone all the other crap they had on each page. The important thing is now our platoon sergeant can say we’ve been trained and can check that box.

I left and went to my car to have some breakfast. At 0730 when the SFAC opened, I headed in and checked my army email. I then just surfed the web a bit. The SFAC has about 8 computers or so that soldiers can use, I was just staying inside to pass the time and try and stay warm because it’s so freakin’ cold outside.

At 0800 I went back up to B company and saw my NCM. We went through all the usual questions. I let her know that I don’t have any issues except having to drive all the way in here just to see you…lol. I did let her know about a refill I need for my muscle relaxers. She’s gonna have them ready for me so I can pick them up next week when I come in and see her again. She explained that they get audited a lot and they have to see each soldier at least once week, but every once in a while I can do the check in via phone if there is a holiday during the week or something. So it looks like I will not be getting out of making the drive at least once a week for the most part.

I went to the barber and got my head shaved, then went to the commissary to pick up a few things…I gotta take advantage of the times I do make the trip! I then changed into civilian clothes and went to the Starbucks on post to sit for a bit and enjoy a mocha. Since I had to make the trip here I decided to run a few errands as well. The first was a drive to Kent where I dropped off a MacBook that I worked on as a side job. I then made my way to Granite Falls middle school where I surprised my son at his away basketball game. It was pretty cool seeing his face when he saw me. I love taking every opportunity I have and seizing these precious moments in time. I already missed too much while being stationed away. I’m going to make the best of my time now.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 182 & 183

First time I've come across a freshly squeezed OJ vending machine!
(seen while out at the mall Christmas shopping)

This weekend consisted of a lot of Christmas shopping. We did some shopping online, but then headed to the Auburn Super Mall and continued with some traditional shopping. On Sunday we headed to my in-laws house to watch the Seahawks play. It’s always fun watching the game there…even if they did lose to the 49ers today. I just love the fact that I can watch all the local sports that I want now that I’m back home.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Half Day - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 181

Sent my squad leader a text this morning “MOU Today”, then headed into the sub base outside of Silverdale. Once there I started my normal morning routine of checking my army and navy email and then surfing the web a bit. I thought for a minute to start a SkillPort, but I just didn’t have the drive or motivation at all. I just continued to slowly surf the web checking out the news around the world, the US, and locally. I was basically zoning out while surfing the web.

I stopped for a bit and played a few games on my iPhone to switch it up a bit. I really wish that I could be considered basically an employee while I’m here. I’d like a lot more to do, I’d like to learn more, I’d like to actually do something. There are 2 open and unfilled positions in the department, so I’m not sure why I can’t just take over the responsibilities of at least one of them. Instead I just kind of hang out and find ways to pass the time.

At 1000 I did one of the only things that they really have me help out with around here…help physically move things. My co-worker and I took the two computers that we fixed yesterday over to the naval 911 office and hooked them up. Since we already had them completely working before we left, all we had to do was call and have port security reset on the switches and then everything worked perfectly. It’s good to finally get this project completed after all the problems we had with these last two machines.

Once we got back I surfed the web some more, then headed to my car and had lunch. When I came back in my co-worker said “hey it’s Friday, there is nothing to do and nobody else is here…just go ahead and go home”. So I didn’t waste any time and headed out for the day. Once home I settled in and did some schoolwork.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Success! - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 180

This morning I sent my squad leader a text “MOU Today”, then headed into the naval sub base outside of Silverdale. Yes…you guessed it, I started the day with my normal routine of checking my army and navy email. I then surfed the web for a bit. My co-worker wanted my help driving out to the Bremerton Naval Shipyard and picking up some random items. He used to work out there, but they recently moved him permanently to the naval sub base, so he still had some items to move. The I.T. office has people working at both bases, as you can see in my journal I go back and forth quite a bit.

When we arrived back from our trip to Bremerton, my co-worker received a response from the vendor. It turns out something has affected just these two PCs and we need to uninstall C++ and reinstall it. I imaged one of the PCs, then headed to lunch in my car. During my lunch break I get a text from my squad leader telling me that I have to go to Ft. Lewis when I’m not at my MOU. Well duh! That is why I text him each morning stating I’m at my MOU. I reply letting him know that the navy said they can use me as much as I can give them and that I haven’t had any appointments, so I’ve been working with the navy everyday.

When I got back from lunch, I started back on the newly imaged PC. After installing all the updates and preparing all the settings for security purposes, I uninstalled C++ and installed again with our new installer. To both of our surprise the image actually works! I quickly make a new image from this working model and we load this new working image onto the other machine. I prepared both machines to move back to the naval 911 office (computer names and IP Addresses among a few other things). We’re done for the day, we’ll take the working machines over and place them back into service in the naval 911 center tomorrow.

I head home and do schoolwork. While at home I get a message from my squad leader stating that I have to see my NCM on Monday at sometime between 0800 and 1000. My NCM asked me this week when I called and checked in with her if I was planning on coming in and I said no. I guess now I have to come in and physically be there once a week now, even if my NCM is my only appointment. I get mildly upset, but I guess I can’t really complain about the drive because it is only once a week. I was just starting to get a full on beard too…now I’ll have to shave this Sunday!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Trying to Stay Awake - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 179

This morning I sent a text to my squad leader “MOU Today”, then headed into the naval sub base outside of Silverdale again. As usual I started my day off by checking my army and navy emails, then surfing the web a bit. I guess because of the late night yesterday I’m super tired today. As I started a SkillPort I found myself with heavy eyelids slowly closing over and over again as I end up reading the same paragraph over and over. I pushed through the first half of the day, then headed to my car for lunch. It’s getting increasingly cold outside. In my car I listen to the radio and eat my lunch with a blanket over me…but my hands still get pretty cold!

The second half of the day was finishing up my SkillPort course and then surfing the web for a while. I chatted with my co-worker trying to figure out how to resolve the issues we’re having with the last two PCs. We’re still waiting on word from the vendor, they requested more information earlier. We’re hoping they have some idea of why they are not working because we’re fresh out of things to try.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Leaving Early - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 178

I sent my squad leader a text this morning “MOU Today”, then headed into the naval sub base outside of Silverdale. Once there I settled into my usual morning routine (check army and navy email, then surf the web). I then worked on another SkillPort course. At lunchtime I left for the day. I made the 2 hour drive to Sultan and watched both my son and then my daughter play basketball. I had a blast watching them and cheering for them, I know they liked having me there too. I missed out on so much while in the army…now I cherish every moment I have because kids are only young once! It’s worth the drive and not getting home until 2230.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Back to the Grind - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 177

Back to work today, it’s really tough after a nice long break. I got up and texted my squad leader “MOU Today”. I then headed into the naval sub base outside of Silverdale. I could use the bases actual names, and it would be pretty easy to find out, but I just don’t want this journal to end up coming up when people are searching for the particular names of the bases for some other purpose. I just keep a lot of it especially vague when I talk about my work with the navy. This journal is not about the navy, but about my experiences while in the army…so if you were wondering there is the answer.

When I arrived in the office I did my normal routine of checking my army and navy emails, then surfing the web for a while. My co-worker then had an idea to use one of his working computers (his test computer on his desktop) to replace one of the nonworking computers at the naval 911 center. The computer is a slightly different model than all the rest, but it would give them a working computer until we can figure out the problems. We also have another test computer that works out at the shipyard in Bremerton. So the plan now is to replace the two nonworking computers with our test computers for at least the short term.

We carted the test computer over and hooked it up at the naval 911 center and it worked fine. One down and one to go, but we’ll pick up the one in Bremerton soon…just not today. I had lunch in my car and then worked on a SkillPort to finish out the day. I think I may end up doing all the continuing education requirements for my CompTia certifications all while working with the navy.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up (Thanksgiving 4-Day) - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 173 - 176

This Thanksgiving four day weekend was just plain awesome. I had my kids with me for Thanksgiving and we enjoyed the holiday together with my extended family for the first time in years. My family has a tradition of playing bingo after we eat. Everyone brings white elephant prizes to win. It sounds like a funny tradition, but it sure is a lot of fun. Watching people open the presents which usually contain some pretty funny surprises is half the fun. I really enjoyed the time with my family, I tried to soak up every minute of it. For so long it was just a normal event, but missing everything while I was in the army has really made me appreciate how special it is to hang out with family. This was the best Thanksgiving holiday I can remember!