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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.


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. :-)

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 29, 2001 8:11 AM.

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