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November 2001 Archives

November 27, 2001

I am serious. And stop calling me Shirley.

It's been quite a while since I've done a journal entry.

This has mainly been due to my unexpected recall to active duty in the US Army. Travel to Arizona (Ft. Huachuca), re-acclimation to Army life, getting a new apartment, etc. has all played a factor in being a bit too busy for the journal.

All that's now about to change.

I now unleash...

ThunderJournal

That means absolutely nothing, but I felt like saying it. Plus the pun that "Huachuca" means "Thunder Mountain" was just too good to pass up.

I'll follow this quick entry with some back entries that never got filed, and then a more recent entry about how things are going on down here in Arizona.

No, the *white* courtesey phone

Happy Halloween!

Jim and I are bachelors this week, so he invited me over on Halloween for some pizza, beer, and movies. He had never seen Fight Club before, so I unhooked my DVD player and brought it over.

I got mobbed by trick-or-treaters as I was trying to leave my house (from about 6-6:30), so I was a little delayed in leaving, but some of the costumes were pretty cool. I actually felt a little bad leaving because I'm sure more kids came to my house after I left. Oh well!

The moon was full and the weather was perfect -- I had forgotten how much I love Halloween. I just wish that I had had time to do something creative this year. Ah well; perhaps next year.

Jim was duly impressed with Fight Club.


Got a mail this morning from someone using OOMPI and Blitz. Who woulda thunk that these two projects would eventually end up in the same lab?


Zipped down to Ft. Knox this afternoon to get some uniform parts. We live closer to Ft. Knox now, so it only took about 45 minutes to get there. Had a full-car search/inspection just to get on the base. Plus, I forgot how long it takes to get anywhere on base -- speed limits are low (mostly 25mph with a few 35mph zones) and strictly enforced. Woof!

Even worse, Clothing Sales had moved from where it used to be. I drove up to the old location and found an empty lot. Doh! It took me quite a while to find the new location.


I mowed my lawn today, possibly for the last time in over a year.

:-)


And now I head out to drive to Ft. Huachuca.


It was a long drive. 3 days of 10-12 hours worth of driving. Most of it in analog cell phone country. <sigh>

I could never be a truck driver.

November 29, 2001

It's a building with patients and doctors. But that's not important right now.

(Note: This is still an old entry -- I'm still playing catchup on old journal entries)


So I'm here at Ft. Huachuca.

I'm in the Communications Electronics Command (CECOM), Software Engineering Center (SEC), Battlespace Systems Support Directorate (BSSD), Intelligence Fusion Systems (IFS). Quite a mouthful.

"Hi, I'm 1LT Jeff Squyres. I work for CECOM, SEC, BSSD, IFS. Can I establish a PIN to access the DNS admin via VPN in order to change the A and MX records for the IFS, FSSS, and TAS WWW servers? Can I get fries with that?"

One of our sister organizations in SEC -- Information Systems Engineering Command (ISEC) -- is also here with us at Ft. Huachuca. They happen to be in a different part of the same building that we're in -- Greely Hall. Greely Hall is the home of Army Signal Command -- the top-level headquarters for everything Signal in the Army.

Since I'm a Signal officer, I'm actually around a lot of "my own family" types of officers. Quite a different environment than the apache battalion where I used to be, where all the other officers were Aviation, not Signal.


There are two major tenants of Ft. Huachuca: the Military Intelligence School and the Army Signal Command (ASC). So we're relative nobodys here at Ft. H, and we tend to tag along with ASC stuff a lot. :-)

I've noticed that IFS is really well stocked for secretarial supplies. It's got to be the best-stocked office I've ever worked in (supplies-wise). Any kind of administrative item you could want -- they've got it. With the sole exception of white board erasers -- I really had to scrounge to get one of those.

I've got a nice desk (U-shaped, of course) with a bookcase, tall locking cabinet and extra shelves, and overhead cabinets for extra stuff. Not a bad setup. My desk is in a common area with the secretary for our branch within IFS (there's 3 branches -- I'm in the Tactical Automation Support (TAS) branch). They came and measured for cubicle walls the other day; that'll be nice when they arrive.

The people here are pretty nice. There's only one other military guy in the unit -- all the rest are civilians. It's somewhat strange (and also completely different than anything else that I've done in the Army so far). Even though they're all civilians, they do have rank. And aside from the secretaries, I'm the lowest ranking guy around here (literally!). I find it somewhat amusing, actually.

Speaking of which, I'm actually up in front of a Captain promotion board right now. I got a notice about this a few months ago, but disregarded with with the thought of "who cares? I'm getting out in May anyway" (May 2002 is when my 8 year commitment from ROTC is finished). Well, I guess it's somewhat important now. :-) The results from this promotion board won't be out for 5-6 months. I'll laugh pretty hard if I make CPT.

I'm slowly learning what IFS does and what I am supposed to do within that organization. The quick version is: support and continue to develop military intelligence software. It's amazing stuff, actually, and there's a lot of smart people working on it.

I have a w2k box on my desk. Blech. I hate windoze. No virtual desktops! How do people work like this? On the up side, I really do like Outlook's calendar/scheduling stuff. It talks to my Palm Pilot, and that makes me happy...


Ft. Huachuca is directly next to the town of Sierra Vista, AZ. It's a small town of about 40,000 people. It's so small that there are no Bennigan's-class restaurants here. There's a Chiljis (sp?) being built, and everyone is very excited. This makes no sense to me -- since we're about 15 miles from the Mexico border, there are plenty of great mom-and-pop Tex-Mex restaurants around. So why would you be excited by cheap, bad Tex-Mex chain food?

Verizon doesn't have digital service here. Bonk.

The time zone here is just like in (most of) Indiana -- we don't change time. Half the year (like now), we're effectively on Mountain time. The other half of the year, we're effectively on Pacific time. How do I manage to keep finding places like this, and then going to live there?

I have an apartment -- a studio apartment at first; a one-bedroom place is opening up on the 26th. It's fully furnished, has maid service, telephone, cable, two phone lines (for modem use), a kitchenette (stove, oven, full-sized fridge, dual sink, garbage disposal, etc.), linens and towels included, and so on. They charge the max allowable army rate per day, which works out nicely for me -- I get fully reimbursed, and pay no utilities, etc. I just have a somewhat-nice apartment and don't pay a dime for it (not that I've been reimbursed yet -- it's a nice theory, at any rate!).

That's all for now. More later, when I can actually get to a unix box to submit this...

It's a little room in the front of the plane where the pilots sit. But that's not important right now.

ThunderJournal Part Duex: The subject line change.


Work is... interesting.

It's staggering to be responsible for the software that is used by all US Military Intelligence units around the world.


The nicest thing happened to me the other day.

I was on the phone with Tracy one night and there was a knock on my door. I opened the door and there were two women there. They said, "We saw you come in earlier in your uniform and figured that you are away from your family. We just finished making dinner for our whole family and wondered if you wanted to join us."

I politely declined since I had already had dinner and was on the phone with Tracy, but about an hour later, there was another knock on my door. This time, it was the husband of one of the women who knocked earlier -- he brought me a plate of food and some peach cobbler (which was absolutely fabulous, by the way!). He said, "We just thought we'd bring you a plate of food anyway..."

I chatted with him for a few minutes. He told me that there was about 30 family members who had traveled in to Sierra Vista to celebrate their father's birthday. Apparently, they come to Sierra Vista every year to celebrate his birthday. He finished the conversation with, "We just wanted to thank you for protecting our country -- we think it's wonderful what you're doing."

This was from a group of total strangers -- they gave me a plate of excellent food and heartily thanked me for doing my job. It was really cool.

In our lawsuit-happy, "it's not my fault" society, it's extremely refreshing to see a display of unprovoked kindness like that.

I was fairly busy over the next few days and didn't get to chat with any of them again before they left -- I didn't even get their names -- but they have my sincere thanks and gratitude.


Tracy flew in to Tucson (about an hour away) last Wednesday evening (the night before Thanksgiving). We found a random Tex-Mex restaurant in Tucson and had dinner (it was yummy; the Southwestern food is really good out here. Imagine that!) and then drove home to temporary-Chez-Jeff.

We went to the Ferguson's house on base for Thanksgiving the next day (my CPT -- he's actually the Executive Officer of the unit that I'm in. That's the second in command for you non-military types). LT Tim came as well -- more on LT Tim in a minute. CPT Woody also came
-- a friend of CPT Ferguson's. CPT Ferguson's wife and two children were also there, as well as a friend of theirs who they met while CPT F. was stationed in Germany. The food was excellent and a good time was had by all.

Tracy and I bummed around on Friday, talked about new cars (my Honda Civic is dying; hence, I drove Tracy's car down to Ft. Huachuca), as well as some other admin kinds of details that we didn't get to handle before I left.

We went to see Monsters, Inc. that evening. It was enjoyable, but I think it was a bit over-hyped for me, so I was a little disappointed. I still recommend it, though -- I'll give it 7.5 minutes.

Saturday, we test drove the 2002 Camry. It was only a 4 cylinder, and kinda felt like a Honda Civic with a nicer interior. We wanted to test drive some other models and brands, but Sierra Vista is a small town and there aren't too many car dealers here. The ones that are here don't have a huge selection. :-)

Later in the day, we went into Tucson to Jim's (of Janna) parent's place. We hung out with Jim's family (parents, sister, and brother-in-law) and had a good home-cooked dinner with them. We also caught parts of the ND/Stanford game. Woof.

We left Jim's parent's house with about 8 minutes left in the 4th quarter, and ND was winning quite handily. That seemed safe enough, and it was getting late (the drive home takes almost two hours). It took us a while to find an AM station that was carrying the game. While we were flipping through the AM spectrum, we actually tuned in a station from San Francisco, CA! How's that for amazing commercial radio distance?

By the time we found a station with the game, ND had lost its lead and managed to lose the game. Woof!!


LT Tim is a guy who inprocessed at Ft. Huachuca at the same time as me. He is a 1LT (like me) and also did the ROTC thing years ago when he was in school. Soon after his graduation/commissioning, he did the OBC thing (Officer Basic Course), but then immediately fell into the IMA. That is, he hasn't drilled or done anything for the Army since -- he literally fell through the cracks and was largely forgotten... until about a month ago.

He got orders similar to mine, summoning him to Ft. Huachuca (he's assigned to Army Signal Command, though, not to CECOM, like me).

He's a little lost and trying to remember how to be a Lieutenant.

Tim is from Florida; he's an investor for Smith Barney, and has a wife and two children. His 8 year commitment from ROTC is up in December -- he was a little over a month away from getting out of the Army when he got his recall orders. Doh!

I think it's safe to say that I have found someone who was even more surprised to be called up than I was. We both have remarkably similar attitudes, though -- while we're definitely not pleased about the family separation (and I can only imagine the crappiness of being away from your kids), we both signed on the dotted line all those years ago, and so we're doing our duty without complaining.

Tim's a good guy; we've hung out a bit and had a few beers together.


Some random notes about Arizona:

  • The left-turn green arrow at stoplights comes after the full green light. It's really weird.

  • The visibility here is amazing. We routinely have 30+ mile visibility in Sierra Vista. For example, Tracy and I could see the lights of Sierra Vista from over 23 miles away (we checked the odometer) when we were driving back from Tuscon on Saturday night.

  • Because of this visibility, distances here can be extremely misleading. For example, if you see a red stoplight, your natural reaction is to start slowing down. However, here in Arizona, that stoplight might be well over a mile away. Case in point: on one of the highways outside Sierra Vista, you can see a red stoplight from over 1.5 miles away. Amazing.


Tracy and I went to see Harry Potter on Sunday afternoon (when was the last time you went to see a matinee?). Neither Tracy nor I had read any of the Harry Potter books and didn't know much about the story. We both enjoyed the movie. It wasn't the world's greatest movie, but it was quite enjoyable and was fun to watch. I recommend this movie for those who want to just get into a good story.

Unlike Perk, I give it a fairly good rating -- 25 minutes --
because I didn't expect it to be another Fight Club or cinematic landmark. For example:

"Harry -- I want you to hit me as hard as you can."

This just wouldn't have worked at all.


On Monday, I took Tracy back to the Tuscon airport and she flew home. <sigh>

On the upside, I moved into my one-bedroom apartment on Monday as well. It's nicer than the studio that I was in -- it has a little more room, more closet space, and a physical separation between the "living room" and the bedroom. That's kinda nice -- if for no other reason than to separate "work space" (the living room, where I sometimes work at night) from "relax space" (bedroom).

It's the little things in life. :-)


It's getting colder here in Sierra Vista -- it's in the 30s in the morning and evening/night.

Today, the turn signal in my car started staying on after I completed turns. I don't know if it's the cold temperatures or what.

Supwitdat?


I'll finish with some quickies:

  • Radio stations in Sierra Vista are non-existent. All the radio stations come from Tucson, but since we're 60-70 miles away and 2,000 feet higher than Tucson, reception is less than perfect. I've had to resort to making tapes from CDs for my car (I only have a tape player in my car). When was the last time you used an audio tape? The only ones I have are about 10-15 years old and sound horrible. I've gotta buy some new ones...

  • CPT Ferguson is getting promoted to Major on Monday. His parents and parents-in-law are coming in this weekend, and one of our higher-ups from Ft. Monmouth (where CECOM is headquartered) is coming for the ceremony. He's an SES (Senior Executive Service) -- the civilian equivalent of a General. Everyone will be minding their P's and Q's, and we have a whole ton of briefings and demos lined up to present the status of our projects, etc.

  • Speaking of rank, I think I described in a previous entry that civilians in government service also have "rank". That this, their rank (or, more specifically, their "grade") more-or-less maps to the military ranking system. They're not exactly the same thing, but you could compare them in a red apples / green apples kind of way. That being said, I outrank only the secretaries around here. Everyone else outranks me. I find that pretty amusing. :-)

About November 2001

This page contains all entries posted to JeffJournal in November 2001. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2001 is the previous archive.

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