03 June 2008

AT08--Day 2

My rack last night


We're down in Chaffee now, which so far (in contonment anyway) looks a lot like Ft. McCoy, except not as nice. And hotter. We're staying in double-story WWII barracks identical to those at McCoy. At least these have walls between the toilets (but no doors on the stalls). And two, count them two, shower heads per 40-man floor. I think I'll forgo showering in the morning. The air conditioning doesn't work very well; it sort of trickles out. But at least there IS air conditioning. The rest of garrison so far looks like Ft. McCoy 20 years ago with a new paint job. McCoy's been modernized with a new PX, refurbished barracks, a NICE club, etc. Not so here. The barracks do have these neat closet deals that two people can share but lock separately. Much better than the usual footlockers, especially for 3 weeks.

The bus ride down here took maybe 9-10 hours. It was alright; it was a charter bus, so it was more comfortable than the Army school bus I was afraid we'd be in. The only bad thing about it is that it has video screens for in-flight movies. Sounds great, only I'd usually rather listen to music and read, and the guys turn it up too loud for either one to be feasable. Oh, well, I got to watch Mr. and Mrs. Smith and most of Transformers again. Besides, my CD player (yes, CD player...my iPod died, the headphone jack on my smartphone is busted, and so I'm back to the 20th century. Hopefully by next year I'll have an iPhone and my problems will be over) kept quitting on me; I felt like throwing it through a window until I realized that it was a battery issue; it uses about half the battery capacity and quits. New batteries made it all better, but still, annoying.

After we got here, we inprocessed by getting our ID cards swiped (it's getting a little creepy how everything you have to do in the Army nowadays is starting to require putting your ID card into a computer) and watching a little movie of big brass from Illinois talking to deploying soldiers (which we're not, but everybody else here is). I recognized one General as a guy I drove around Ft. McCoy one year to the club and other places, many Summer Camps ago. He gave me a mug which he signed and I have since broken. Then we ate; I had forgotten how bad Army chow was; having no cooks, all our meals are catered nowadays. But not here. Then we went to the barracks and got settled in until tomorrow.

I realized I didn't mention what we actually did yesterday: not much. The major highlight of the day, besides drawing new uniforms and making sure everyone was packed, was going to Scott AFB to get new ID cards and go to the BX. I didn't need either, but I was sent along to ride herd. Well, we sat for 3 hours at the ID card office and got exactly 2 (out of 10) cards done. Computer problems, apparently (damned Air Force ;-). We watched Disney's Tarzan while we waited, which prompted me to download the original novel to my Treo and start reading it. It's actually surrisingly interesting and readable.

Last night was HOT. I took forever getting to sleep--not til 1 or 2, I would guess, with an 0500 wakeup. Some horrible rotten person had closed the bay doors, so there was no fresh air on the drill floor, I didn't dare reopen them for fear they were closed by 1SG for security or something. The overhead fans were inoperative, and the single exhaust fan I could find was also broken. Ugh. Fortunately all we had the next day (today) was a long bus ride, so I slept on the bus.

Stupid trick of the day: apparently I didn't screw the top of my laundry detergent on tightly enough, and it came open during the trip. Fortunately, it only came open a little, and the worst damage it did was to wet the corner of my copy of The Federalist Papers. I'm lucky; it could have been a LOTworse.