Saturday, August 09, 2008
Which doesn't really cover it. Since my last post, I've ventured past the event horizon of the black hole known as the "Ops department" and been sucked down to the singularity that has gravitational forces so powerful it can unzip the smallest particles from their orbits. I feel like I've been unzipped from my old life completely since I started working there. I suppose I should back up a little: I now work in the squadron's S-3, or Operations, shop, which is the brains (technically speaking; many in the squadron would disagree that we possess any intelligence whatsoever) of the joint. It's where all the planning and coordination for what we're doing tomorrow, next week, next month and next year goes on. As such, it is insanely busy with many people working on many different subtasks that somehow have to seamlessly join together into our "training plan". I wanted to move into Ops since I've been working as the computer geek in two different squadrons ever since I came out to San Diego, and I was tired of it. It's essentially a reactive job, and since you're mostly reacting to the heinous service provided by our contracted network, it's also a thankless one. Furthermore, it didn't keep you very busy, and if there's one thing I know about myself, it's that idleness breeds, well, more idleness. If I don't have something to keep me regularly occupied, anything approaching "work ethic" goes out the window. Well, Ops has been plenty busy. I assumed I'd start working there writing the daily flight schedule - the entry level position in Ops, which I'd done back in North Carolina for awhile - and then take on more complex responsibilities; but with our training tempo, I'm not only taking my turn writing the schedule, but coordinating training detachments and exercises in the weeks and months to come, and all with very little in the way of formal instruction. This is OTJ learning at its best (or worst), and while I can't complain that it's not what I was looking for, it's taken away all my attention from virtually everything else besides Ops work. For those whom I haven't directly talked to by phone in the last few weeks, I wouldn't blame you for thinking that I really had fallen into a black hole.
One of the downsides of my new job is that I have far less down-time to devote to surfing the Web (which, I realize, is not what I'm getting paid to do, though there are days when I could have been forgiven for thinking so), so I've only been able to give most current events a passing glance. Russia is invading someone: big surprise. John McCain has been churning out some mildly amusing campaign ads, though the Paris Hilton one seems to have done as much for her career as his (I have to admit, her rebuttal was classic). Obama is, well, Obama, promising himself without amplifying details (though the longer he spends in the spotlight, the more prickly and humorless he seems; I also can't imagine him delivering a line like "So-and-so spoke to hundreds of thousands of Berliners; I'll take the sound of 50,000 Harleys any day").
And of course, I've been watching more Battlestar Galactica. I'm finally on season three, which, along with the last few episodes of season two, injects a few current hot-button issues into the mix. I knew this was coming from talking with my college buddies, and wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy BSG when it strayed away from story-telling (watching espisodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation now that I'm older makes me cringe with their ham-handed moralizing). However, they managed to weave their politics into the BSG universe deftly, if not very subtlely. One episode brings abortion 'rights' to the front, when a pregnant stowaway is discovered who no longer wants her baby. The colonial president spouts some standard lines about not preventing women from controlling their bodies, when it's brought to her attention that with the birth rate amongst the survivors of humanity, the human race will be extinct in a few short decades. Suddenly, giving the human race a future trumps the 'right to choose', and the president chooses the future. Very interesting, thought I; with demographic growth rates across Europe in a death spiral, would Eutopian leaders ever make the same choice? Or would the ever-increasing gamut of "human rights" condemn, say, the Italian race to extinction? The choice may seem obvious when humanity consists of only 50,000 individuals, but why should we let abortion reign until we reach that point? The beginning of season three then touches on Iraq, complete with suicide bombings and a 'collaborative' civilian police force, in the context of a Cylon occupation. This is probably the weakest part of the series and I was glad to see it end (though in a side story, one of the Cylons keeps Starbuck under lock and key in his house and screws with her head every chance he gets. She does not respond well). But eventually they get back to doing what they do best, which is telling a good story. The episode "The Passage" gives us some back story on Cat, who we've seen cross swords with Starbuck in the past; this time, we get to see less of her bitchy side and more of her dedication to the uniform she wears and those she's sworn to protect. I won't give anything else away; I'll just say that this is yet another episode where everyone has done an incredible job of capturing the "warrior ethos" and commitment to duty one sees almost every day in the military. It moved me very close to tears. Great stuff.