Friday, April 16, 2010

A Day In The Life

Drat, the Blackhawks decided to follow the trend and get upset on the first game of the playoff series. C'mon guys! You're so much better than that! Sunday, baby! I am hoping to get some knitting time in tomorrow (I can't knit during Blackhawks games - I get too worked up to even sit still most of the time - but I'm not as emotionally invested in any of the games tomorrow and have to rest up for a midnight CQ shift anyway, so that should be good knitting time. Assuming I can remember what to do with sticks and string...)

I wish I had had a better idea of what to expect when I was getting ready for my tech school. Granted, the Vandenberg schoolhouse is generally much much more easygoing than some of the bigger training bases (Sheppard and Keesler come to mind - we are MUCH smaller), so this is pretty base-specific but would still be good info for those going into space or missiles. So maybe if there's someone out there like me who got their tech school and then tried to find information on what it will be like, this might help.

A typical day here looks like this:

People who want first breakfast start waking up and getting ready for the day. If you want a hot non-processed breakfast and are in class, you go to first breakfast. Only Phase I detail airmen have the option of going to second breakfast, because the rest of us are in class.

People who don't go to first breakfast start waking up and getting ready for the day. People who do go to first breakfast load up into the van and head out.

Everyone starts heading downstairs/back from the dining hall

Morning formation in the dayroom. The ropes take accountability, the morning MTL makes any necessary announcements.

People in classes start forming up and marching over to the schoolhouse, which is about a quarter mile (if that) from the dorm in an almost straight line. No big deal.

Morning classes. March back to the dorm when your instructors release you. (Ours has never kept us past 1045 but missiles often stay until 1115)

Bus picks us up at the dorms to take us to the dining hall for lunch. Phase I must go to lunch, the other two phases don't have to (we have mini-fridges and can keep food in our rooms - lots of people do breakfast this way so they can sleep in later). Often used as naptime for those who don't have to go to the dining hall.

Bus picks us up at the dining hall and brings us back to the dorms.

Classes form back up and march back over to the schoolhouse.

Afternoon classes. March back to the dorm when released. The MTLs will usually make us stay down in the dayroom and "study".

MTLs release us to go to our rooms to get ready for PT (M/T/Th) or Airmen's Time (W) or Final Formation (F). Usually more naptime for those who are good with the 20-minute power naps.

We start forming up for PT/AT/FF

PT/AT/FF (AT and FF very rarely go past 1530, PT will usually go the entire hour). For us, Mondays are usually circuit/strength days, Tuesdays are runs (3-5 miles) and Thursdays (depending on the MTL's mood) are "fun" days - ultimate football/frisbee, soccer, dodgeball, etc.

After that, we're released for the day and the MTLs escape (or turn into vampires or whatever it is they do when they aren't at the dorm - btw, MTLs are military training leaders and are basically the sergeants in charge of dorm life. They do our room inspections, open ranks, PT, any drill stuff we do, and take care of discipline problems in the "house". They aren't academic teachers. "Ropes" are students who have been designated as leaders within the dorm - different colors have different levels of authority/responsibility). You can get dinner at the dining hall (if you're a Phase I you have to, the other phases can eat elsewhere if they want, but hey, free food, right?), shower, change into civvies, study, clean/do laundry, run errands (on and off base), go to the bowling alley or ministry center, use your personal electronic devices (if you can get a decent connection, which is hard - go to the bowling alley if you're Phase II or above and can't get off-base =P ) During the week, we all have to be back in our rooms by 2200. The weekends are much more lax - you pretty much make your own schedule, as long as you're following your phase rules, make your bed checks Friday and Saturday nights (2200 for Phase I, 2400 for Phase II and yes, they will wake you up to make sure you're in your room), and are accounted for at the GI Party at 2000 on Sunday. Our GI parties aren't bad - just a few end of weekend announcements and a couple rooms get assigned to do stuff like vaccuum the carpet in the hallways or clean the CQ latrines that barely anyone uses. No big deal.

I don't know anything about the missile classes, but the space instructors that I've met so far have all been great. Knowledgeable, and very very approachable. My class spends about 90% of the time laughing and we would hang out all the time if we were allowed to. The other classes tell me theirs are similar. And the academic instructors can also help with situations going on in the dorms, too, and can be counted on to talk to the MTLs if they feel there is a problem that is affecting an NPSer in the classroom. I've personally seen my instructor do that a few times, and if he can't deal with it, he'll get someone up the food chain who can, which is heartening to see. I very much prefer being in class to being in the dorms, because I actually get treated like I have a head on my shoulders there. Dorm life definitely delves down to the lowest common denominator very quickly, and I am very much NOT 18 years old. And having a car and driving privileges will automatically make you everyone's new best friend, which can be both fun and irritating.

But anyway, if anyone is looking on the 'Net for information about tech school at VAFB, I hope you find this and it helps!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Easing Up (A Little)

Survived two weeks so far. Phasing up on Monday, which means I can leave the dorm in civilian clothes, drive, personalize my room, and LEAVE BASE in my blues (but I can change if I go to the dojahng, as long as I wear the blues leaving and coming back). I still have to be back and in my room by 2200 during the week and 0000 on the weekends, but I can actually go see Sir and Ma'am and Mrs. S (all of whom have been texting me telling me to get my ass back to class) and my knitting and TEDDIE! And I can watch the playoffs on a REAL tv without having to fight for it. And get a real internet connection.

Life isn't completely terrible, though. I have a couple of nicknames here now, which I'm told is a good sign. The ones I've heard have been Blackhawks (by the resident Wings fans, due to wearing my jersey for Sunday games) and Trouble, which is, of course, highly original and I've never heard before =P Class has been pretty cool. It's a good group of people, and we have a lot of fun. (We went bowling on Friday afternoon. Seriously.) I only missed one question on our first block test (I had a brainfart and couldn't remember if "I" in the phonetic alphabet was India or Indigo and of course guessed wrong), and I think I did pretty decently on the PT eval, too. My run time wasn't as good as I wanted it, but it was definitely passable AND we were running directly into the wind AND we ran the outside of the track when it turns out that the 1.5 miles is actually measured from the INSIDE of the track, so we actually ran farther anyway. So I'm not going to get too worked up about it. And we're in our orbital mechanics block right now, which is kind of my love. (Yes, I'm a space geek, I think that's been established.) There's also a launch coming up soon, so that should be cool.

Four more weeks until total freedom. Yay!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

So class actually started today and it will definitely make life more bearable. There are about ten of us, one of them is one of my flightmates from the 216th (prior service), one is a dormmate, and the rest are all prior service. I'm not the lowest or the highest rank, the instructor is pretty cool (if a bit scatterbrained, but it's fun) and the material doesn't seem too bad so far. Nothing new, anyway.

And we played ultimate frisbee for PT today (apparently Mondays are circuit, Tuesdays are distance runs, and Thursdays are "fun" as long as we keep up our PT scores). Got an eval on Monday, though. We'll see how that goes. Should be fine - I'm not worried about passing, just about bragging rights, quite honestly.

Now just gotta make it through the next about nine days and I'll at least be able to drive and leave base in the evenings (even if I do have to come back at night to sleep). Finding myself slipping back into the BMT mentality of living meal to meal and taking it one day at a time. I hate it, but, like Basic, it's not hell. It's just not pleasant either and if I could do it any other way, I would.