Thursday, March 31, 2011
Community college was for those that wanted to do something technical like be a mechanic or a carpenter. Join the workforce if you didn't know what you wanted to do. Don't join the military. I can't think of a single person from my graduating class that joined the military.
I don't know where we got the idea that military was a bad choice... I'm wondering if this is regional in part...if parts of the country promote the military as a good choice for the ultra-successful students and not just for the directionless...there were no military bases near where I grew up...maybe this played a part.
There was an article on msnbc the other day about a group of soldiers here in Afghanistan who were killing civilians for fun and sport. A group of reckless cowboys...
Being over here, around soldiers from all branches of the service...except I haven't seen many Navy folks...I can say that the "reckless cowboys" are the exception...not the norm. The soldiers that I have the priveledge to interact with here are respectful, respectable, intelligent, kind people. Many could've easily made other choices out of high school/college besides joining the service. They could've easily been successful in other areas, but the chose the service.
They carry themselves with a sense of pride...they believe in our country and in freedom. They know more about what the flag means than most people...and they are proud to serve under that flag...they know the history of our country.
Way back when, I never considered the military for myself. To me it represented a lack of choice, freedom, and individuality. I don't feel that way anymore.
When I think of my boys and what kind of men I want them to grow into...respectful, proud, kind, caring, moral, and hard-working are all traits that I want them to embody. Kristi and I are doing our part to instill these values. If we can and they choose college and work...we'd be so pround. If we can and the boys decide that the service is the place for them, I'd be very pround to be the parent of a soldier.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Looks just like the kitchen sprayer at your kitchen sink, right? That what I said. But why put it by the toilet?
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
It is beyond bad...it is unreal.
I'm guessing that they either:
a. burned a couple of pots about 6 years ago and never cleaned out the pots and instead just keep brewing right on top.
b. filter the coffee through the entry mat that everyone wipes their feet on.
c. roast the beans with a little bit of roadkill in the roaster to spice it up.
No matter what, it is terrible. As I've been taken around to meet people, I've kept my eyes peeled for areas where people have coffee makers in their work areas. I want to be friends with those people.
I found an area in my building where the group has both a Keurig and a thing that is a couple of steps up from a Keurig...it will make any kind of coffee drink you can imagine and tell you that you look very nice while it is doing it. Those people are my new best friends. Kristi is going to have to send me a few pounds of beans so that I can bribe my way into their coffee circle.
In Dubai, I did not have coffee problems. I had a layover in Dubai for about 15 hours. Because of the time changes involved with flying over here, I woke up at 2:30 in the morning...wide awake. After a little channel surfing and not finding anything worth watching, I decided to go to the business center to send some emails. Then I decided to just sit and read in the lobby, they had super comfy chairs. The hotel asked if I needed anything and I ordered a cup of coffee. Here is what they brought:
It was so good, probably one of the best coffees I've ever had. After a bit the hotel server came back out to give me the bill and take my cup. I asked for a second cup. He looked at me like I had 2 heads and said, "you want another cup?"...me..."yeah, sure...that'd be great."
He brought it. I drank it...then the twitch near my eye told me why nobody orders 2 cups...it was wicked strong!
A couple hours later, when I went in for breakfast...the guy that served me the cups of coffee was my server. He asked me if I wanted more coffee...I politely declined. He said, "coffee is very strong, yes"...I agreed...with a big smile on his face he said, "you had 2 cups!"...I nodded.
He then left me alone to jitter and eat my breakfast in peace....it was amazing coffee though. I'll be ordering 2 cups again on my way back throug Dubai in a couple of months.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
When I was younger, big and little events like this had a tendency to make my stomach do somersaults...not so anymore...at least not for this trip. This entire process, from initial interest to now has all been relatively easy. Everyone at my home office has been extremely supportive with this process and the same goes for everyone at the deployment center.
It is weird knowing that I'm deploying to Afghanistan but I'm calm about it.
Makes me feel like this is the right decision. I know that it is going to be difficult...on me, my family, my boys...but I still feel good about it. We'll see if my feelings change as time goes on.
The work could be pretty taxing...I'll be working between 64 and 70 hours per week; 7 days a week. But, I'm not going for the nightlife...so I may as well work as much as possible.
People have asked about safety. Are we concerned? I am I going into a war zone?
We are concerned, it would be unwise to not be a little concerned. Before agreeing to go, I met with a number of people at my office who have deployed, some more than once, and they all said that they felt really safe during their deployment. I'm going as a civilian, not as a soldier. I'll be stationed at a base in the green zone that is all inhabited by other civilian employees with the Corps of Engineers. Of course, this doesn't mean that things are totally safe...I/we still have to be vigilant....but from what I understand, it is a relatively nice place...not in a war zone.
I'll see when I get there.
For my birthday, in preparation for this deployment, Kristi bought me a kindle. I'm so excited that I'll finally have time to read for pleasure again. I've been so busy with work, school and family that personal reading hasn't happened in a long time. I love my kindle!
So far I've ready the first 2 books in the Lee Child, Jack Reacher series. There are 13 books...I may try to know them all out while I'm over there. Last night I started reading Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes, as it was supposed to be one of the best books that has come out in the last few years...I've decided to hold off on it since it is a book about the Vietnam War...I'll come back to it later. Instead, I started Ravens by George Dawes Green. It is starting out pretty well...and I'm so happy that I get to read again.
I'm accepting recommendations if anyone has any book recommendations. So far, on my Kindle, I have:
Shatter by Michael Robotham
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
The Winter of Frankie Machine by Don Winslow
Drood by Dan Simmons
I'd know you anywhere by Laura Lippman
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Let me know if you have any required reading beyond what is listed here...I'll have the time. Keep in touch by email or through this blog, I'll have regular access to both while I'm over their...in theory.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
I took myself out for a nice dinner...steak and ribs...and had some time to myself to think.
About family. About work. About places I've been and people I've known that I haven't thought about in years.
Big events tend to do that to me. While others go out for their last hurrah...I go in for some thinking. It hasn't always been that way, I used to be the one that would go out...the first one out...party hard, don't even need a reason. I'm not that guy anymore. No longer do I want to be the center of attention or the life of the party...I think I got old.
But a new adventure starts.
I'm deploying to Afghanistan for 6 months to work as a structural engineer for the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Most people that know me don't understand why I would volunteer for this. There are a number of reasons...and I want to try to explain the biggies.
My job, I love it. I really enjoy working for the Corps. I like the size and scale of our project. I like the idea that we have a Mission and a commitment to the public, instead of a mission statement and a commitment to shareholders. I want to continue working for the Corps for a very long time. So when they sent out an email saying that they needed help with other parts of the mission; supporting military efforts and the war in Afghanistan...and they specifically needed structural engineers. I was interested, but it was a little more than that.
I'm grateful to the Corps. Prior to getting my job with the Corps, I was working for a structural design firm and not really enjoying it. I was scared because I saw architects and developers all around us...our clients...laying people off, stopping projects, and slowing down all work. As they slowed, work at my office slowed. I was grouped with a bunch of very smart engineers with great experience, if we downsized I was going to be out the door. I saw the job posting for the Corps, right up my alley, and I applied. A tense 3 months later, I got an interview...3 hours before my company downsized and I was laid off. Within 2 weeks I was offered the job I still have. Many people got laid off, at my firm and at many others, I feel so fortunate that I was able to get this job. So fortunate. All around the country, people are still out of work, cashing out nest eggs, losing homes...that could've been us if I hadn't gotten this job. I can't imagine what things would've been like for me and my family if I was without work for a year or more. I'm so grateful for this job. So when they needed people to volunteer to help, and they requested structural engineers, I knew they meant me. And I talked to Kristi.
There are other reasons, too. Maybe I'll go into them at a later time...I've rambled on for long enough.
I miss my family. Everything I see reminds me of them. Sam, Matt, Kristi...I love you very much. Kristi, thank you for your understanding and support as I do this...I couldn't go if I thought you couldn't handle it. I'll let you wear the pants for the next 6 months but don't get used to it, I'll be putting them back on when I get back.
I miss my family, but feel very fortunate that I get to go serve in this manner.