Monday, July 27, 2009

Checking In, Beginning Week 3!

Time is sure going by! Looooong days but fast weeks. One of the highlights of last week was the M-16 training. I still have to practice getting it assembled and disassembled in under 4 minutes. Maybe I can tap my inner Forrest Gump. I did a computer simulated exercise and got the rank of marksman. I was pretty fun! I will officially qualify when I start my field training next week.

Another fun moment this last week was Saturday night when I went to a dueling piano bar called Howl At The Moon on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. The pianos were going non-stop and they occasionally added in some drums or a guitar too. The crowd sang along to all of the songs. I loved the contest of choosing the cheesiest song from the 1980's. It tied with "Rock Me Amadeus" and "Gloria". At one point they had all the prior and active service military come on stage and sing along to "I'm Proud To Be An American" and it was pretty awesome.

Today I was waiting to do some medical in-processing (get immunizations, put medical info into the system, and do a vision exam). I arrived at 7 with over 150 other people after a 5:45 formation before breakfast. It took over 3 hours to get the computer system back up again and when all was said and done, I got out 6 1/2 hours later. During this time, I played a few games of tic tac toe and the dot game with the captain next to me, checked my Facebook about a dozen times, chit-chatted with a few other people surrounding me, and attempted to write my first post via phone. Unfortunately, the online access wasn't that great so I'm just doing it now before I touch-up my powerpoint presentation on STDs for tomorrow. Ahhhh, STDs. Fortunately I don't have to give it before lunch. I made it out with a Tb test, a polio vaccine (weird military protocol...), my second Hep A, and the easiest and quickest vision test ever. I thought for sure I would have trouble with that one, but I could use my good eye. At least I don't have to wear ugly "Birth Control" glasses when I'm in the field.

More to come...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

OBC: week 1

I'm almost finished with my first full week of Officer Basic Course (OBC) at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. Here are just some random thoughts and evens of the past week:
* On Monday I had a paperwork fiasco with my unit and this resulted in me leaving pretty late (considering I thought I would have it all signed by 10 AM and could be making it on my merry way. I didn't hit the freeway until about 5 PM and drove through the night. I learned that Texas Highway Patrol are pretty strict about their speed limits and I tried to be careful with the speed limit for most of the trip. With a time change, the night-time speed limit dropping to 65 mph and getting a little lost in San Antonio, I made it to lodging around 5 in the morning. I ended up taking an hour nap in my car and then I was able to register.
* With the large number of people in my class as well as the other overlapping class, we were assigned to hotels off base, with our own rooms. I know my living arrangements will be drastically different in a couple weeks when I start field training (crowded tents, 105+ degree heat, no showers). I guess by then I'll be moved to on-base shared lodging for the weekends and probably for the rest of my time here.
* I did have a little elevator trouble the other night. I was going down to the first floor and when it stopped, the doors barely cracked open. Pulling them and pressing the open button didn't help. The elevator went back up, and then down and repeated the same thing. For the next couple minutes it continued to go randomly up and down while I called the help line. I was told that the elevator had been having problem (duh, why didn't they have a sign on all the floors?)and a mechanic was going to fix it. The elevator finally stopped and opened on the third floor where there was a man waiting to use it and I told him he shouldn't. Craziness.
* I still have a bit of catching up to do on sleep. My first 72 hours since Sunday night I totaled 9 nine hours of sleep. The last few mornings I had to get up at 3 and 3:30 in the morning. I guess it's better to do our outside stuff at 5 in the morning when it's 80 degrees rather than 5 in the afternoon when it's over 100 (and stays 100 even at 9 o'clock at night). It's been a little bit of a challenge to stay hydrated, although it's made a little easier with my "patriotic" blue Powerade. And bless the creator of flavor-enhanced water (except the lemon-lime flavor -- that one is nasty).
* It's nice that I'm not the only one new to the military. The class (over 300 people) is about evenly divided between newbies and prior service. There's also some reserve and National guard too, and three foreign military officers. The majority of the group is made of nurses -- 95% of the people I meet -- and I've met about a handful of PAs.
* I had a nice time last night on the Riverwalk and some good Italian food with some of the other students. Good times.
* It's taking me some time and patience to get used to this San Antonio freeway system. Circular freeways? There's so many different roads and one-way streets. Who's idea was that? Luckily there are some turnarounds, but really it should not be that complicated.
* I attended the military branch today on base that was held in the library. Attending church in the library is a first for me. In a couple weeks we might move to the child development center. There was a pretty good turnout of around 70 people and they said it was the largest group they have seen in a while. I was a bit distracted during Relief Society with the "Read" campaign posters of celebrities from the 80's. Does anyone remember those?

More adventures to follow. Stay tuned.

Soundtrack of Life (so far)

I got this idea from my friend Brett and decided to try it out. I'm passing on the list of rules if anyone feels like doing the same. It is really interesting, fun, and a little challenging. If anyone would like to create their own playlist, feel free to share it with me or we can even swap CDs.

The purpose of the soundtrack is to expose friends to new or different bands and discover one another's taste in music. One should not try to analyze the lyrics to figure out the person as lyrics may or may not reflect the person's own life. For example, some songs may be included that have a particular sentimental value, may be what one was simply listening to at a particular period of one's life, or may even be chosen for the lyrical content, but that can only be discovered by asking the compiler of the soundtrack, not by attempting to analyze and figure it out on one's own. Each individual has his or her own rationale for compiling the songs that he or she chooses and it may be extremely different from your own.

1. You may choose any songs of your choosing for your soundtrack, but an artist can only appear once on your soundtrack (for example, I could not have two songs by The Smiths, but it is perfectly fine to have one song by The Smiths and another by Morrissey--who is the lead singer of The Smiths but later branched out on his own).
2. All songs must fit on 2 cds.
3a. Burn a disc with your soundtrack and swap it with a friend who has done the same.
3b. If you are swapping with someone from a distance and do not wish to mail the cds (or if you would like to swap with me, but don't want to burn discs or get my address, etc.) you may simply send the playlist with the name of the song and the artist. This will allow for the person to look up the music on their own if they like.
4. Swap the cd and playlist with your friend.
5. If you like, you can ask your friend why he or she chose a particular song for the soundtrack, but the friend reserves the right not to share that information if they do not desire to do so.

So here's my soundtrack of life (so far):
Disc 1

Beautiful Day – U2
We’re Going To Be Friends – Jack Johnson
When I Fall In Love – Nat King Cole
All We Are – Matt Nathanson
Winding Road – Bonnie Summerville
Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Passenger Seat – Death Cab For Cutie
Dreams – The Cranberries
Homesick – Kings of Convenience
Keep Breathing – Ingrid Michaelson
Analogue – A Ha
Angel – Sarah McLachlan
Chocolate – Snow Patrol
Smells Like Teen Spirit -- Nirvana
Dead Man’s Party – Oingo Boingo
When You Say Nothing At All – Alison Krauss and Union Station
Book Of Days – Enya
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing – The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Gabriel’s Oboe – Ennio Morricone/Yo-Yo Ma

Disc 2

Turn, Turn, Turn – The Byrds
Little Wonders – Rob Thomas
Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve
Fix You – Coldplay
Am I Awake? – They Might Be Giants
Brand New Day – Joshua Radin
Dancing In The Moonlight – Toploader
When It Don’t Come Easy – Patty Griffin
Life Is Beautiful – Vega 4
Life Ain’t Always Beautiful – Gary Allan
California Soul – Marlena Shaw
Off I Go – Greg Laswell
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day
We Will Never Forget – Savoy
What A Wonderful World – Eva Cassidy
Appalachian Spring, Simple Gifts – Aaron Copland
Ara Batur – Sigur Ros