We’re about a month into 2015 and it’s about time I do a little writing… particularly about what the hell I’ve been up to in 2014. You may have noticed that it has been pretty sparse around here lately. That is most certainly a by-product of the absolute ridiculous pace of 2014. My work as an instructor pilot down here commanded (and continues to command) the bulk of my time. Throw in a Master’s degree, working out, family, time with Jennifer, temporary duty assignments, personal projects, home maintenance and time with friends and I find myself about all tapped out when it comes to anything on this website and about one hundred other small projects that I simply don’t have time for. Browse and discover new music? No time. Read books? No fucking time. Practice a new language, learn the guitar, buy and use a telescope… all stuff that life simply provides no time for right now. It’s slowly getting better as high-emphasis items are slowing, but I’m also at that point in my career where I am entering middle management and the projects continue to mount. So we’ll see how that plays out… I know this year will be another busy one, though… more on that in a moment. This post will be a long one so try to corral your short attention span, focus for a minute and read through.
Working life at the MQ-9 FTU has been nothing short of taxing. First, allow me to enumerate the various different roles I have or have had within the squadron, most of these concurrently:
- Instructor Pilot (primary gig)
- Executive Officer (OCT 2013 through APR)
- Chief of Training (MAY through DEC)
- Foreign Disclosure Officer (AUG to current)
- Information Assurance Officer (MAR to current)
- Supervisor of Flying
- Snacko (JAN 2013 through APR)
- Mayor (JUN to current)
The details of each of these positions may be spelled out in later posts, but I doubt it. I started one on what it’s like being an Instructor Pilot down here that is close to completion so maybe you’ll see that, but the others may just be compiled into one slightly larger post. Who knows? Big picture though is that there is a never-ending supply of work and side tasks that have to be accomplished. Couple that with a mass exodus of people from my career field and the pile of office-level work only gets deeper. The mission must continue, though… shit must get done.
All that aside, Holloman has been fairly good for my career. I’ve gained a breadth of experience in squadron-level jobs, completed some professional military education and have established a reputation as a pretty good pilot and a decent instructor. This last bit has even opened the door for me to Weapons School. I’ve applied to the school, but selection is limited. I’ll learn my fate sometime late this month to early March. If I’m selected, I can expect a healthy five months of getting my balls kicked in by instructors 14 to 16 hours at a time as I work to become a better instructor and advocate for the MQ-9. I’ll keep you posted.
This year I also wrapped up work on a Master’s degree in Computer Information Systems. I began this course of study back in the spring of 2012 and finally, ten classes later, finally completed it this past December… with six of those classes coming in 2014 alone. The workload wasn’t that great, but it was certainly significant and coming home from long hours at work only to have three hours of homework has not been pleasant. One of the biggest impetuses for me to even pursue this degree in the first place was the fact that it made me competitive for promotion to Major… so that’s another career check box filled while down here… too bad the powers that be have decided to mask advanced academic degrees at the promotion board starting this year. Ugh. That isn’t to say that it was worthless for me or my career, though. I learned a lot about the field and a lot about my own work/study habits. Long story short, I need a deadline to get work done. I procrastinated like there was no tomorrow on pretty much every assignment until there literally was no tomorrow and the assignment was due at 3 a.m. The number of nights I was up until 3:01 a.m. is far larger than it should be, but somehow I ended up with a 3.9 GPA. That one ‘B’ kinda haunts me, but no biggie.
In addition to a few trips to Las Vegas for various reasons, Jennifer and I traveled to San Francisco and Jamaica this year. The trip to San Francisco was an attempt to burn down some leave and get out of the desert for a bit. Fantastic trip. We visited Muir Woods, Coit Tower, the California Academy of Sciences and Napa Valley. Then in November we rendezvoused in Jamaica for a week of swimming, catamarans, awesome food and day trips with some friends from Vegas. Time hasn’t really permitted me to sit down and review the photos from any of these trips, but maybe sometime soon I’ll post a few up. I also went to Norfolk, VA for a week-long TDY… nothing special out there, but it did offer me my first “opportunity” to fly First Class. Long story short, I didn’t find it worth the money. Sure the service was better, the seats wider and there was more leg room, but I’m not convinced that was all worth the $1100 above the standard tickets. I can suffer less leg room if it saves me $1100.
I drank too many energy drinks, deadlifted 290 pounds, shot some Hellfires, bought a rifle (killed a pig with it in Texas), won a couple minor awards at work, rebuilt my servers a few times, hosted a few parties, attended a fair number more, did some cooking a read a few books.
So that’s about it for major stuff in 2014. 2015 is moving along at about the same tempo already. There will be more travel, a lot of time off from work over the next five months, new friends, more get-togethers and more career enhancement. I’ll be doing my first bit of real train travel on a train from London to Scotland in May where I hope to visit a lot of wonderful places, Scotch whiskey distilleries, do some family history research and enjoy the company of friends. There is still a lot of planning in the works for that, but the tickets are purchased and two weeks of leave from work have been granted… so this thing is definitely happening. I’ll try to keep things updated around here… at least more so than I did in 2014… but there are no promises.