Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Deployed"

I'm officially "deployed" now. I've made it here & am getting settled into what will be my home for the next six months.

Usually when you deploy the AF provides your transportation (mostly because you're usually going somewhere most airlines don't fly) but since my destination was stateside & only ~700 mi away, I opted to travel via POV. I figured it'd be best to be able to come & go on my own schedule, not to mention that having my own familiar 3-er would be muuuch better than putting up with some economy-class rental for six months. (Can't tell that I'm the pilot-type, can ya?)

My plan was to split up the 10.5-hr drive at about the 5.5-hr mark, but an out-of-nowhere "Service Engine Soon" light convinced me to call it a day at the next major city: Knoxville, Tennessee. I didn't think that pushing my luck on an unknown (potential) engine problem would be wise, especially since there might not be another qualified service station for some time. As it turns out the SES light didn't reappear in the morning, but I felt much better about having given the car a rest when I did. She seems to be running just fine now, but I'll be keeping an eye out for any more signs of trouble.

After I made it (safe & sound) to base I checked in with base lodging, the Carolina Pines Inn. They've put me up in a pet-friendly TLF for the duration of my "deployment". It's a fairly decent suite-type room: a living room that opens into a kitchenette attached to a hallway leading to the bathroom & bedroom. The square footage is a good sight more than my dorm at Vance, but an off-base apartment would've been preferred. I have no problem with living on base (I actually kinda prefer it, as far as location goes), I just wish that I could have a more consistent, wired Internet connection! The rooms have Wi-Fi & it's only marginally better than what an average hotel's would be; during the evenings, when I suspect most people at the Inn are online, the connection becomes painfully slow. I seriously did a SpeedTest that reported 0.03 Mbps down. Three. Bits. Per. Second. Dial-up is faster than that. Granted, it's free, but I'd gladly pay for more reliable service. But enough negative ranting . . .

Aside from my free time, I'll be spending my six months in the South as a Crew Commander in a network operations security center (NOSC). While the NOSC looks remarkably like the type of high-tech ops centers you see in movies & TV shows – stadium-tiered workstations, multiple PCs & monitors at each desk, big multi-screen display at the front showing color-coded network maps – it's really not much more than a standard client support helpdesk. The only real difference is the clients we support; AF network users have a slightly different set of requirements than the general population. ;-) The NOSC operates 24/7, so it's manned by three eight-hour shifts: the 0630–1430 day shift, the 1430–1030 swing shift, & the 1030–0630 night shift. My new boss has kindly decided to let me get me spun up on the day shift for the first couple of weeks before moving to nights; I had initially thought that I'd be diving right in on nights. The normal rotation is three months, so I should be back to days in May. (All of this isn't official yet, as the scheduler hasn't been around this week, so who knows what I'll really end up doing!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day & Pre-deployment

Well we are in the final stages. T leaves on Sunday. As much as I'd love to share that this week is all about holing ourselves in the house and enjoying every precious moment, it's more a hurricane of last minute details. We both have been dealing with briefings and appointments -- I had no idea how many things I would have to do before he leaves. Left to do this week: Both our cars need to be taken in - what perfect timing for the engine lights to go on, right? Plus, of course, packing and finishing up the checklist that Family Readiness gave us. We've been prone to spontaneous hugging and I could break into tears pretty much at any moment, but other than that we're holding together.

We tried not to let it spoil Valentine's Day, however. To be fair, we don't really do much for Valentine's Day ever. Last year it just happened to coincide with T coming back from a six-week TDY to Mississippi so we used it to celebrate that. It's just not something we fully buy into, but I love any reason to cook something special. You might be thinking, if you love it, any day is an excuse . . . you must not a.) realize the mess involved and b.) know me very well and how I hate doing dishes, hehe.

We went to mass and came home to brunch. I had a spread of "brunch pizza square" (crescent roll baked with egg, cheese & sausage) which I cut into heart shapes, cinnamon rolls & strawberries with my beloved mother-in-law's fruit dip recipe. :) And, of course, mimosas because it just makes it classier. On Saturday we had met my mom & cousin in Lima to pick up things they had that he needed for his trip. And mom surprised us with the ingredients for a romantic dinner so when the fullness from brunch wore off we had steaks, crab legs, baked potatoes, asparagus, sauteed mushrooms & shiraz.

Gifts were cute and low-key: I got T a few bags of different whole bean coffee, a mug & I made him "box of chocolate cupcakes" which are way more fun than a box of chocolates. He got me flowers (not roses, yuck so cliche, bright purple & yellow tropical beauties) and a keyboard (along with one of his monitors) so I could use my laptop as a desktop. I had been saying how much more productive I am when I actually have a desk space, but we're not in a position to buy a new computer right now so it was really, really sweet! :)

And other than the meals, we just hung out all day. Watched some Olympics, played some xbox. It was a nice, relaxing day of just being together.

Love & Hugs