Sunday, August 11, 2013

Awesome August update and Tripel B

Financial Progress
I think I've made the greatest progress here: reconnected with my Pennsylvania Bank, online access to my student loans re-established, opened an account with Vanguard. All of it pouring data into Mint so I can see what's up. I was feeling pretty good about tracking my loan debt on Mint until I reconnected with the owners of my private loans, revealing the full total. I thought I had public loans and private loans rolled over into one location, but I was mistaken. It's an unpleasant revelation, but at least now I know the gory details. I haven't exactly succeeded in the "Chill out on Car/Motorcycle shopping," but I think I'm going about it in a smarter way. I have automatic alerts set from so I get emails when certain brands/models I'm interested in pop up on the Waco, Temple, or Austin craigslists. Instead of just posting/passing those links around, I'm compiling a weekly summary email that I'll send out to interested parties for their thoughts and advice. Let me know if you want to be included.
Still to do:

Army Progress
I've been to Kandahar Crossfit 11:30 class 5 times. Not a great record, but there are no Sunday classes and I've also moved twice this month. In the past week, I went to 4 classes in a row before the Sunday reprieve and it was sorely needed. I just felt beat up. I'm not a huge fan of the Olympic weightlifting, but that may just be because I don't know what I'm doing technique-wise. But my general outlook is that going 6 days a week to struggle is still worlds better than just hanging out in my room. I'm finding little purchase for my intentions to be ambitious and thorough with my role in the TOC. Too many of the changes I think are necessary require more gravitas and authority leveraged on others than a specialist can manage. I have expressed those desires to some of the folks with gravitas and authority, so we'll see how it goes.
Still to do:
  • Promotion tracking (what exactly would I need to make those points?)
  • Studying for promotion board (Dayshift uses my book more than I do) 

Education Progress
This has been the area with the least progress since it requires computer time. My internet usage has been cut shorter with Crossfit and rather busy with financial machinations. I have decided to not try to take any classes this fall because of this shortage in concert with the uncertainty of the job. The financial bits will eventually take less of my time and I can spend more of my energy on program research.
Still to do:
  • Find degree programs for Geosciences and Secondary Education in every destination location (TX, PA, NY, DC, MA?) 
  • Get physical, edifying books to digest in the TOC (not super necessary while I can still use the internet at work, but I'm confident that time is coming to a close) 

I've had more than my fair share of nicknames due to my personality and penchant for certain facial hair, but back in the engineer company, I had been called "Beer Blogger" after some of the guys discovered this site. I want to recapture that one with some new beer posts here. Unless I develop an overwhelming urge to tell you about my recent experience with Beck's Non-Alcoholic, these will all be retro-reviews. Some of them are actually from before my Ambitious March blitz. The Tripel B is one such brew hailing from Adelbert's in Austin. I remember it being yeasty and strong at 9.3% ABV. My picture looks significantly darker than the new ones on their website. Maybe they changed the recipe when they revamped their branding. Unless I visit the brewery (a very real possibility), I probably won't get this again.

It's my birthday in just a few hours here; hopefully it will pass by pleasantly without fuss.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Awesome August and a furry friend

Yesterday, I decided to be better in everything I do. Like BOOM; gonna be awesome. It's a deliberate mindset change that declares in no uncertain terms that it's both possible for me to achieve and that I will do it.
I found it hard to not pepper this declaration with jubilant expletives.
I found myself in a 3-week slump of not doing PT, spending too much time browsing the same familiar websites while somehow feeling like I both wasn't getting enough sleep and that I was too busy to tackle personal tasks/projects. I'm not sick, but it was still uncomfortably similar to the lifestyle pattern that lead to me falling out of sorts and eventually withdrawing from Pitt.  I could make excuses and say "work is hard, I need to decompress/relax" but it's just not true. Work is hard, but when I work harder and do PT I sleep both better and less and every day will be more productive and efficient. I think of how good I got at basic training; fitting my "me time" into a packed schedule and getting so much done. I know I can do better here without the military ritual and pageantry. This will probably include less time chillin' on the internet, reading the everything people post, and having languorous Facebook-chats.

To this end, and for my own accountability, I'm putting some goals out here on the interweb for all to see.

Thus far I think I've been generally frugal in life, but willfully ignorant of financial machinations. I think it's time for me to put on my big-boy pants and change that. Sarah and I are already planning on a concrete family budget for when I return. I feel like it's time to really grasp what we spend on and be deliberate about goals and saving. In the meantime:

  • Start Deployment savings program allotment
  • Re-establish contact with my pennsylvania bank account
  • Re-establish contact with Student loan Accounts
  • Track balances and make a student loan repayment plan
  • Open Vanguard Roth IRA
  • Populate and maintain profile
  • Chill out on Car/Motorcycle shopping (won't need it for many more months)

I've known all along that I wasn't going to be a career military guy, so I didn't really worry about jumping through the right hoops to be promoted. But after reenlisting to 2015, I now really need to make at least corporal for my termination of service documents to pass the resume sniff test. I should have made a much bigger fuss about not getting any personal award for my tour in Iraq; those are promotion points down the drain.

  • Serious PT for an hour a day at Kandahar Crossfit (rumor of September PT test & I'll sleep better)
  • Promotion tracking
  • Studying for promotion board (do more than carry the book around)
  • Be ambitious and thorough with my role in the TOC

I'd decided on education and leaning towards earth science in particular months ago, but I'd not been using all of the considerable family, personal, and institutional resources at my disposal. Sarah's Social work career will be in the driver's seat soon enough and I want to hit the ground running when I part ways with the army.

  • Find degree programs for Geosciences and Secondary Education in every destination location (TX, PA, NY, DC, MA?)
  • Get physical, edifying books to digest in the TOC (I truly love my Kindle, but I cannot take it into secure areas with Secret computer systems)

There are many things outside of my control that will affect this. I am still one of the lowest ranking people in my area, I can't change when the bad guys will interrupt my day with mortars, and I expect the pace and load of my job to increase significantly when Ramadan ends. But can at least be prepared to meet these challenges with a full head of steam.

We got a Boxer-Labrador puppy from the Fort Hood shelter.
And by 'we' I mean mostly Sarah, given the situation
Her name is Luna and she's a little over a year old. She knows her name, how to sit, and where it's generally okay to poop.

So far Luna and the cats have been very good together. The cats are curious and the Luna is rather indifferent. I'm already imagining she and miss Darwin becoming pals.