Dumb Idea #873

Filed under: — lana @ 7:48 am

I get a lot of dumb ideas. I doubt many would argue that, so not much point in justifying it with examples. Better to just accept it as truth and move on with my life, trying to identify when an idea might just be too dumb even for me.

That particular point, the identification and thus getting rid of the dumb idea, is where the malfunction appears to be. I should really talk to the brain doctors about it whenever I have confirmation of my next class date so I am no longer afraid to get my head examined again…

Moving on, so yesterday I happened to come across an ultra-marathon website.

I hate running. I do it, and I don’t usually mind it when I am doing it for about the first ten minutes, then I always get bored and start thinking about the things I would rather be doing at that particular moment. The time passes in that way, but it isn’t a particularly fun way to spend my mornings.

Then I read that a lot of people WALK most of these ultra-marathons. Well, I can walk forever and never get bored. I have no idea why, but will blame it on Xenu for now so I can move on to other topics. This concept of walking 250 kilometers across four of the major deserts in the world seemed like a fabulous idea.

I mentioned it to my warrant. He said that it was the dumbest thing he had ever heard. I mentioned it to my husband. He asked why I wanted to pay money to see a lot of sand, and informed me that I was an idiot. I don’t know why I bothered to mention it to my first sergeant, since all he did was call me a fool and move on. My sister is about the only one who thought it sounded neat, but she actually runs marathons so I think she’s out of her mind.

I have a feeling that I am somehow going to do this sooner or later, at least one of the deserts if not all four. I have been banned from high altitudes for the time being until the doctors can figure out how dumb it is for me to go above 5,000 meters or so. They fail to realize that usually means I will be more inclined to try it anyway.

I will nurse this dumb idea; I will coddle it and love it until I can figure out how to raise the money to actually do it. I almost feel that things like this are expected of me at this point, and I would certainly hate to disappoint.


Don’t Make Any Plans

Filed under: — lana @ 10:07 am

One of the first things they teach you at these little non-commissioned officer schools is the concept of backwards planning. You find out where you need to be and when, then work backwards to figure out how to get there and all of the time until you get to something inane like what time to wake up. Everyone in the human race does this in some sense or another, consciously or otherwise.

Which only stands to prove that Big Army is not human.

Big Army seems to do forward planning. Many days, it seems like no planning at all, or perhaps reaction planning when they realize something was supposed to be done last week.

Hypothetical situation, a unit faces a small, short-term deployment. Under normal circumstances, very easy. When do they have to be there? What equipment do they need to bring and how can it get there? How long will it take to move the equipment and the Soldiers? How long will train-up take? All leading back to when does the Operations Order giving them the direction to move get published and previous orders.

The Operations Order, OPORD, is the lifeblood of the Army. Without it, nothing would happen and everyone would sit around twiddling their thumbs and staring at each other. Since I know enough people paid to do that already, it would be a travesty if OPORDs ceased to be. They are what tells a unit to get up and go and how to get there. They tell them what needs to happen and who needs to do what to whom to make it so.

That is, unless someone forgot to backward plan so the OPORD shows up a week after the first items should have already been completed. Those items will still be listed there, clear as day with the “done by” date, which was typed in with precision and gusto by some training shop clerk who is probably embittered that they are stuck in the training shop instead of doing whatever it is they came into the Army to do but now figures “What the hell, may as well do what I can here” and ensures that everything goes into the OPORD exactly as the Commander whispers it into his ear, and which was also a week ago but he didn’t think he should point that out to the Commander.

When things show up overdue in an OPORD, panic tends to ensure. For me, that involves a phone call at some random hour with a midly panicked officer on the other end trying to figure out how to fulfill every obligation on an OPROD that should have been published three weeks prior. Luckily, my job bores me, so I tend not to get excited about much and just figure out how we can best help them. I usually also take the opportunity to get everyone else spun up by making requests with short deadlines with full knowledge that the request probably will not be fulfilled in time. It’s becoming almost a hobby, since I have been working with aviation recently and no pilot plans more than a day in advance. This apparently carries through all the way to whatever mystic Army Pilot In The Sky that controls their orders, because every day we reinvent the wheel as something new pops up that should have been taken care of yesterday.

So while I sat through several classes all about the training cycle and backwards planning and predicting contingencies and all that rot, all it seems to have done is ensured I get up on time for work.

Once I get up, though, everything is subject to change.


Pretty Objects

Filed under: — lana @ 12:01 pm

Warrant officers can be amazing creatures. They are supposed to be technical experts… eventually… and appear to spend most of their time getting to that expert status daydreaming and finding other ways to occupy their time. This may, in fact, be what they are becoming expert at, I am not sure. I cannot become a warrant myself because I was told I cannot be forced to road march for 10 kilometers. This is because I have a doctor signature saying it is at the very least strongly advised against. They denied my waiver exactly one month after I completed my most recent 10 kilometer road march. They said that while I could do it, they could not force me to do it, and it was called a “forced road march” on the description of the activity, so I was counted out.

But I digress. If warrant officers are in fact trying to become technical experts at finding other ways to occupy their time, someone really ought consider the promotion status of some of the people I work with.

Just today I was sitting in my office and yelled a question to a nearby warrant officer, who sits around the corner. He yelled back an answer, but I had the window open and could not hear him over the roar of American muscle cars passing by. I yelled again to tell him I couldn’t hear him, but didn’t catch his response. Finally, when the light turned red outside, I mentioned offhand that we should just get some cups and string.

While prior to my interruption he had presumably been happily wandering his way around unrelated sites on the interwebs, this comment spurned action and motivation such as I have rarely seen in the Army.

His first quest was for cups. He found some, questioned if that was sugar or crystalized milk in one, and decided it was good enough. They were the last two disposable cups we had laying around, so he figured it was all meant to be.

He then tore apart the office looking for 5-50 cord, a strong and common rope used in the Army. I had just brought my coil home, so there was none. He went to another office to get some. No luck there, so he returned to continue turning our supply room upside-down in his quest.

He decided he would not rest until we had adequate means of communication via cups and string.

Actually, it turned out he would not rest until he either set up our new communications system or until he realized that a light bulb had burned out in my office. Whichever came first.

While looking for string, he came across a bulb. He observed that one of mine had burned out. Fascinated, he immediately stood on my desk and tried to install the light, which he could not get to work. In his mission, the cups fell from my desk where he had absently left them and onto a chair, which he subsequently used to get down from my desk while shaking the bulb to determine if it was the socket, the bulb, or him that was not quite functioning properly. When getting down, he stepped on the cups, breaking the last two potential earpieces that would not require a trip to the shoppette across the road.

He was devastated, having broken the cups and me still sitting in the partial darkness, until I handed him a Rubix Cube he had left in my office some days before and sent him back to his desk. I even had the forethought to ask him my question when I could hear a response before I left him there.

I am going to talk to the command about him getting promoted in advance. He is clearly ready.



Filed under: — lana @ 12:20 pm

All dumb people should have warning labels. Big, bright, easy-to-read warning labels printed right on their foreheads so when I approach them I know exactly what I am in for.

They don’t have to worry about discrimination. People still buy cigarettes despite those warning labels being on the package for many years. Then again, I don’t see how someone could be chemically addicted to talking to the clinically dumb.

Today I had to explain to one of my Soldiers exactly why he couldn’t wear his windbreaker out if he was going to talk to anyone outside our office. Really, he couldn’t wear it if he was going to talk to me, either. I had to explain that anything that you would find printed on the mudflap for a commercial semi-truck is not something that should be emblazoned on the sleeve of someone who claims to be a professional and someone whom I am supposed to trust to talk to people well above his rank. He didn’t seem to get it. I kicked him out of my office and told him if he wants to talk to me further he will need to remove his jacket so I can talk to him without the image of two naked ladies sitting back-to-back staring from his sleeve. He seemed sad that I didn’t like his new jacket.

These warning labels may yet save society from the stupid. Or at least save me from putting my head through a wall…



Filed under: — lana @ 11:36 am

Last night I had an odd dream about someone showing me new sneakers they had just bought. For some reason, I woke up and had something of an epiphany:

I just don’t care.

Why the shoes (I can’t remember who was in the dream showing me the sneakers, as though that would somehow make it relevant) made me realize this, I am not sure, but it felt liberating.

I have spent an awful lot of time in the Army caring. I still do care, at least about some things. I want my Soldiers (the ones that put effort in) to get something out of it all and do well for themselves and for the Army. I want to succeed at my job and still stay in the field. I want my reports to be right and for my office to have a purpose. I still want and care about all of those things.

What I don’t care much about anymore are things that the Army doesn’t care much about either. The Army wants to send me to a school that could end up cajoling me into staying in for another go? Okay. They don’t because of some inane reason they just came up with five minutes ago? Okay, too. I finally realized that I don’t really NEED much from them anymore, never really did, only I was the one that kept forgetting that whereas they had not. I could get out tomorrow and be just fine. I’d like the school, sure, not just for outside career development but to maybe stay in, but do I really need it? Nah. That makes it all a nice surprise if they actually keep their word and send me this time.

The feeling I got from this realization was completely liberating. I actually worked more today because of all of this, to the point where I think I annoyed people in operations from the absurd number of reports and odd questions I had for them today.

Speaking of surprises and oddities on a completely unrelated note, I happened to be in a main train station the other day and saw several things which both scared and intrigued me:

1) Lots and lots of mullets. The mullet is coming back in Germany. Not as though it ever really left, but I counted at least 20 professionally groomed and long (in the back only, of course) Kentucky Waterfall hair-dos in about five minutes of standing in the middle of the station.
2) A guy in a full Ernie (Sesame Street) costume but without the little screen in the mouth of the costume so you could see the guy’s face. It looked like Ernie had eaten a man and hadn’t fully gotten him down yet, like a snake trying to take on a mouse too big for it to get all at once. Disturbing.
3) A guy in a penguin suit. No real explanation, but there he was, following Indigestion Ernie around. He had the screen in his costume, but may have been too short to see out of it properly as he bumped into things repeatedly.
4) A clown in full get-up exiting an extremely small Fiat. I have no idea how his shoes fit in there, and that actually puzzled me more than anything else for a good while.

Germany is strange a strange place. Luckily, I have at least found mental liberation for a short while. I tend to get sucked back in all the time to caring and trying again, but at least for now I can enjoy the finer things in life, like counting German mullets and seeing if Ernie is about to cough up a man like my cat periodically does her hair.

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