New horizons

So I made it back home on Wednesday with no issues. Except for severe storms when driving across east-central Mississippi, the trip was unexceptional.

The job search has already begun. The hardest part is narrowing things down to keep the number of applications reasonable. There has been a new development that makes this easier. Law enforcement happens to be one of my interests. It turns out that my local community college runs a full-authority Arizona peace officer academy. It’s made for working people, with classes held two nights during the workweek and all day Saturday, for two semesters. I’ve applied. If I get accepted and graduate from it, then I’ll be a more competitive candidate for Arizona law enforcement agencies. Not only that, but it would open doors to apply to things like the DPS Sworn Reserve, which would let me do law enforcement 20 hours per month while still holding down a “real” job that uses my degrees.

For now, this means that my goal will be to get a job here in Tucson, with hours compatible with the academy classes. That narrows things down a bit and makes the search easier.

There are still some “pie in the sky” jobs that would be worth dropping everything and leaving home for: NOAA Corps officer, FBI special agent, and similar things.


Change of plans

I’m writing this from an ice cream shop inside the bowling alley on Maxwell-Gunter AFB in Montgomery, Alabama.

The big news is this: I’m quitting the Air Force. I’m under contract, but it’s breakable until an actual commission is given, which wouldn’t have been until I graduated Basic Officer Training (BOT).

I did this because I realized that my career ideas have changed, and spending four years on active duty as a weather officer is no longer on the top of my list of things I’d like to do. Since getting a commission through BOT takes total committment, if you have anything you even think you’d like to do better, then it doesn’t seem worth bothering with. And four years away from home doing something I’m no longer 100% passionate about is also not worth it.

I should have dealt with this before I went to Montgomery. I could have phoned my recruiter and told him that I wanted out, and that would have been that. But a combination of not being completely honest with myself, lack of time towards the end of my master’s degree program, and stubbornness all contributed to why I continued with the commissioning program.

For the record, BOT itself is not why I quit. The program is intense and super-stressful, but it’s nothing I haven’t done before. But that stress was certainly a trigger that made me finally realize that I was taking a path I no longer wanted to take.

This is a risk. I don’t have a job to go back to. The job search has already begun, even here from Maxwell. I have career plans, but for now I need to worry about paying the bills. If that means I have to take a temporary job while I apply for stuff I really want, then that’s what I’ll do.


Shout bamalama down in Alabama

I’m writing this from a hotel in Prattville, Alabama, a suburb of Montgomery. Today’s trip took me from Shreveport, Louisiana, all the way across that state, then across Mississippi, and then about 2/3 of the way through Alabama.

On yesterday’s leg I officially went from the West to the South. Today you could say I went from the South to the Deep South. Observations:

  • From just east of Dallas all the way to Montgomery, I was in the woods almost all the time. In some places trees hung over the highway. I’ve never been to the southeast before, and for some reason I was expecting hundreds of miles of farms, not forest. However, I know that what I see from the interstate is often misleading.
  • The Mississippi River at the Vicksburg crossing has a serious overflow problem right now.
  • There was a stretch of broken trees south of Birmingham. Tornado damage?

Didn’t eat any special food tonight; maybe tomorrow. The restaurant I went to had a mural on the showing Daniel Pratt, founder of Prattville. Until a waitress pointed this out to me, I actually thought it was Jefferson Davis. (Considering the location, that’s not an entirely unreasonable assumption.)

Tomorrow is one last rest break before the Big Day.


Clean across Texas

(The post title is from an anti-littering clean air program sign along Texas interstates: “Drive clean across Texas”).

I’m writing this about 10 miles east of the Texas-Louisiana border in the outskirts of Shreveport, Louisiana. The drive from Odessa was uneventful, but still interesting. Texas goes on for a long way. One can watch as the West slowly gives way to the South, in landscape, cultural features, and climate. Just east out of the Midland-Odessa area, the vegetation increases, grading from semiarid scrub to dry forests of the Texas hill country. East of Dallas, the trees become taller and lusher, and by Tyler you’re into bona-fide Woods™. I’m now officially in the “humid subtropical” climate zone that makes up much of the American South. As if on cue, I drove through a minor rainstorm near Longview that jacked the relative humidity way up. Didn’t bother me though.

In case I somehow didn’t know that Louisiana was coming up, in far east Texas I began to see billboards for Cajun food and alligator zoos. The welcome sign even had French on it.

Speaking of Cajun food, if you’re ever in Shreveport, you have to eat at Becca’s Steak & Seafood.

Incidentally, while there I discovered that I had a series 1963 $1 bill in my wallet. The Bureau of Printing and Engraving notes that the $1 has an average lifetime of 42 months. The 1963 series was in print from 1963 to 1969. This means that I either have a bill that has seriously beat the odds to lasted this long, or it was only recently returned to circulation after sitting somewhere for 40+ years.

Tomorrow is leg number three, the final push to Montgomery.


A whole nother country

Today was the first leg of the Tucson-to-Montgomery trip. Tonight’s rest stop: Odessa, Texas. The landscape slowly changes on the way there, grading from Sonoran desert to Chihuahuan desert to flat plains, and getting slightly greener along the way. There was actually some rain around Van Horn. Starting somewhere east of El Paso, the architecture also takes on a more “midwestern” appearance (to my eyes— I’m a Tucsonan).

Between El Paso and Odessa is some remote country. There were several times when my radio scanned through the entire frequency spectrum and found nothing. And I mean both FM and AM. That’s impressive.

Other things I noticed:

  • New Mexico loves restrictive road construction. Just in the short leg of I-10 through NM, there must have been five places where the freeway gets collapsed down to one lane each way, and at 45 mph.
  • Texas cities that I’ve seen so far install their traffic lights sideways.
  • Odessa and parts west of it smell like oil, leaking from the pumpjacks scattered all over fields here.

Tomorrow it’s on to Shreveport, Louisiana. By then I should be well into the humid subtropical climate zone.


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