Sunday, November 3, 2013

Is it Possible to Make Money on the Internet?

You will probably think I have gone off the deep end or, at the very least, laugh at me for getting scammed. I have started working (if you can call it that), in my spare time, at home on the internet. All I really do now is stay social on a web site and help new members succeed as I have. If you are interested in how it works, keep reading. If your mind is already blocked to this, I ask you to open your mind and keep reading.

My wife started to college at 40 years old. She has an impressive resume already but never completed her degree. After her years in the Air Force, she worked on computer hardware. She debugged problems with the wiring and schematics. The work became volatile though and she ended up working in the health field where she excels today. My career path is computer software as a programmer. We started a small business (more of a hobby) building web sites for our customers. She was doing the logo and selling, while I was building the sites. I would ask her questions about the style of the site and her input was great. It brought something out of her though. She wanted to learn to program as I do. So she has dug in, with a full time job, two children, and me weighing her down. She is very busy but she is making progress in her computer engineering degree.

She wishes she could go to school full time and I really want to make that dream a reality for her. I decided I would see how I could make money on the internet from my computer. It had to be easy and not very time consuming as I have full time job. I searched online and found there are a lot of things you can do to make money on the internet: write blogs that get popular (hard to do and very time consuming), write documentation or whatever a company wants you to through a contracting type site (time consuming and frustrating), and many more I'm not going to list. Of all of the things I tried, I found that Inbox Dollars was easy and not real time consuming. The site is set up so that you take surveys and get paid to do so. They have other ways of making money but I highly advise not doing those. Mainly because the next thing I found takes what they do to a whole other level.

Before I tell anymore though I must warn you about protecting yourself from computer viruses. The only reason I even started looking at these sites online was because I have an easy way to deal with viruses. I have software that creates a mini computer on my computer. This is called a virtual machine that allows you to save a snapshot of it before going to sites that might give you viruses. It makes it easy to go back to that snapshot so that you never have to worry about viruses. The software was created by Sun Microsystems but Oralce bought them out so you will find the software on the Oracle site. The name of the software is Oracle VM Virtual Box. If you follow that link, download the version for your operating system and install. You will need an operating system to use it. Since MS Window's software costs money, I chose to use Ubuntu Linux. Linux is free and easy to use so long as you don't want to do anything but browse the web. Linux is becoming easier to use but for a user coming from MS Windows, there is a bit of a learning curb. If you click on the Linux link above, you should choose the right version based on your machine and save it to a location you will remember. Open the VirtualBox and when making a virtual machine, point it to that file. I could go on and on telling you how to install and run this but the instructions are already out there. Search for it if you need help. Although this is not foolproof as far as viruses go, it comes very close.

I had signed up with several sites, checking out what they had that would help me make money. So naturally I started receiving lots of spam. You see these kinds of things in your email occasionally - make $5000 a month but, like you, I'm saying to myself yea right. With an open mind though, I visited one of the sites. The site has videos showing you how to make money. They actually train you to "green" a site that pays you $50 once you complete it. Until this point, I had not spent any money. My idea was to make money without having to spend anything. I mean how can you make money if you are spending it? Well it turns out that if you invest a little, you have the potential to make more. If I have peaked your interest, go to ProjectPayday and sign up. Check out all the videos and reading materials with an open mind.

There are two parts to their system. The first is called Method I and the last is called Method II. In these steps, money flows like this:

  • Company with product and trial offer
  • Advertiser who sends customers to the company site utilizing several IFW sites
  • IFW Site that sends Method I referrals to the company site using a special link so that the advertiser gets paid, who in turn, pays them
  • Method II Trader who sends referrals to the IFW sites who in turn pay the trader a kickback from the money they get paid from the advertiser
  • Method I Referral who completes enough offers on a IFW site to "green" it for their trader who gives them a kickback (50 to 65%)
  • Freebie Site gets payed by Method II traders for membership and the opportunity to trade on their IFW sites

As a Method I referral, you purchase offers from companies with good products. These offers are heavily discounted for new customers. If you are not a new customer, you cannot purchase an offer. The offers are from all kinds of companies, but some of the known ones are Dell, Discover, Netflix, etc. Basically you purchase the offers on a trial basis and if you like it, keep paying the monthly subscription (or whatever plan the offer has). If not, follow the company's instructions set forth in their terms of service for cancelling. ProjectPayday sends you through their "Fast First Fifty" where you get paid $50 for "greening" their site. Then they tell you where you can go from there to continue this process. I lucked out and went to a site that has a very fair process for the next level, Method II. The site, where you continue working as a Method I referral, is called 1stDegreeFreebies. As a new member you introduce yourself and receive lots of welcomes from experienced members in Method II hoping to acquire you as their referral. These mentors are very helpful and truly are interested in helping you succeed. I, myself am one of these mentors. Mentors have several IFW sites to choose from and 1stDegreeFreebies has requirements of which sites should be greened before a Method I referral moves to Method II. As you green IFW sites in Method I, you acquire those sites for your referrals in Method II. These acquired sites are the ones the mentor's offer their referrals to green. After you green enough IFW sites as a Method I referral, you can start trading your IFW sites you have acquired as a Method II trader.

The second part of the system is called Method II. You are a trader hoping to acquire referrals to green your IFW sites for you. All you have to do is stay social on 1stDegreeFreebies and help new members and you will get a fair share of new recruits. In addition to staying social and helping new members, if you want more opportunities, post your successes on social sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc. ProjectPayday has good information on how to do this. You can view some of my success on my Pinterest board, Making Money Online.

This has been an overview of trying to make money online using the freebie system. There is so much information about all of this that I am going to have to split it up into several posts. I will provide my experiences in each step and how I have become popular on 1stDegreeFreebies to acquire referrals. I hope you will continue reading and I hope to see you as one of my referrals in the near future! This is not a scam or I would not be writing about it. You do have to spend money to make money. Though I started this so my wife could quit her job and go to school full time, that is not realistic unless I really push to get a lot more referrals. In other words, the potential to make a lot of money is there but you really have to work at it.

If you made it here thank you for keeping an open mind and I hope this helps you if you are interested in making a little extra money. I would appreciate it, if you are going to start this, if you will use my ProjectPayday link first. After going through the training there, I hope you will join 1stDegreeFreebies using my link as well. Once you join, I hope you will look for Welby, my name on that site. More than likely I will find you though :) If you follow my instructions and adhere to the warnings, you will make it to Method II where you can make easy money!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Gym

In a previous post, I talked about losing weight using the Naturally Slim program. With that program, my wife and I lost a lot of weight. We maintained the way of life for a good while but when the holidays hit, we slipped. Months passed and we were not maintaining our weight and certainly not losing any. Instead of revisiting the Naturally Slim principles and applying them we thought it would be better to get in shape. It was the end of June and we were eating a light lunch at a sandwich shop. Behind me, but in front of my wife, Amy, there was a gym. I was thinking it would be nice to exercise instead of sitting in front of a computer all day. Before I could say anything, Amy asked what I thought about going to the gym. I told her I was just thinking about it and we decided we would go see how much it was going to cost.

We walked in and asked how much a membership cost. They showed us around and provided us with the different plans including the plans for personal trainers. We thought it would be a good idea to have a personal trainer to learn how to use the equipment and what exercises were good for our goals. Amy and I talked it over, including how we would be able to make time for it, and picked a plan with a personal trainer once a week for both of us. The rest of the week we would exercise together. After signing everything, we were scheduled for a fitness assessment the next day.

We went and bought some workout shorts and shirts and some new shoes. Later we even bought those watch-like bands that tell your heart rate and how many calories you have burned. I don't use mine because it never tells me my heartbeat. If you sweat, and of course you will, those devices are not very good. It was a waste of money in my opinion. Amy uses hers and has troubles with it from time to time but is patient enough to deal with it. The next day we walk up in there all shiny and new looking like newbies. We didn't care, we knew we were and we knew it wouldn't be long until the new wore off. They calculated our body fat and determined where our heart rate should be to lose fat. Then they put us on a treadmill and talked with us while we walked and ran getting our heart beats to the proper rate.

The number one reason a person joins a gym and never goes back is because their muscles ache horribly after a strenuous workout. I can't remember if the members at the gym told us to get a lot of protein or if Amy already knew but we ended up getting some protein milk shakes to use after our workout. This kept us from hurting horribly the next day. To save money, and after a week or so in the gym, we decided to buy the powder that you mix with water and whatever else you can find to hide the taste of the powder. We mix frozen strawberries and pineapples and that makes a very tasty after-workout shake. Get your protein (about 25 grams plus the protein you get in your daily meals) and your muscles will not hurt. You will notice they have been used but they will not cripple you. With your muscles in good shape, you will not have an excuse not to go back regularly.

My wife is... how should I say this. No, not crazy. She is obsessive on things and this happened to be one of those things. I'm pretty sure it was because of how much it cost. She was determined to get her money's worth. I was thinking we would go three times a week. That seemed like a good plan. That way we could rest our muscles a day in between our workout days. Nope. We went every day. Never missed one day the first month. This is not what I signed up for but I sure wasn't going to let her go by herself with all those guys working out in there. It was a no win situation. I would have to try to keep up with her.

Really it wasn't that bad and I found myself enjoying the workouts. Once a week we would work out with our personal trainer and get pointers on what to do for the rest of the week. Once we got a feel for how everything worked, Amy started checking out the internet for workout plans and came up with a plan for working out each of the muscle groups on different days. We still have several months of personal training but really she is our personal trainer. Once our year is up, we will not have to renew the personal trainer plan. That will save us some money and maybe we can afford to add the kids to the membership.

We really lost the weight we had gained after the holidays. My muscles (I didn't even know I had any) started showing up and Amy pointed them out. I couldn't believe it. She got muscle definition as well and looks great. Amy started school not too long ago and we had to lessen our days at the gym (I hated that, not). While we were working out every day I was eating anything I wanted (including the sugar stuff I was supposed to stay away from). When we slowed down, that caught up with me and I gained weight. We need to revisit the Naturally Slim principles and follow them. Stop eating sugar for three weeks to detox and then eat smaller portions. Workout when we can and we will be able to lose the weight we have gained.

The gym we are in has free boot camps periodically and Zumba classes that Amy and I both attend regularly. There are no guys in the Zumba classes normally but I go anyway because I can actually dance and like doing it. Zumba class I try to follow the instructors but I usually end up doing my own thing. There is a basketball court and I try to play each time we go to the gym but ever since the holidays, all of the new year's resolution people are in the way. Not to mention it is basketball season and there are always a ton of players in the court. I'm looking forward to fewer people in the gym like it was before the holidays.

Going to the gym and using the Naturally Slim principles are good ways to lose weight and keep it off. If you slip like we have, it is not too hard to get back on track. Remember to get your protein in when lifting weights or working on your core. If you can't afford a personal trainer look on the internet for exercises that will help you achieve your goals. Get out and play! It is good for the heart and the mind. Relieves stress, makes you happy, and makes you feel good about yourself!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

United States Air Force - The Command Post

This is part six of a multi-post about my career in the Air Force. Start from the beginning if you like.

In part five I introduced you to Altus AFB and my friends.

It was my scheduled day to start at the Command Post. I walked the 1.3 miles saluting any officers that might be driving or walking by. I wore my blues but I would mostly wear my camouflage uniform when working. When I got to the building and walked up to the entrance, I pulled on the door and it would not open. It made a clanging noise and I could see metal mesh reinforcing the door. There was a button with a sign that said "Ring to enter." I pushed it and a Staff Sergeant opened it and invited me in after introducing himself and asking if I was Airman Poland. I confirmed that is who I was though my name was on my uniform. As I walked in, I noticed it was dark. There was an office to the left of the entrance. Straight ahead there was a pit for lack of a better word. There were stairs, about three steps, that led down into the pit. I saw four people and the machines they were working with along with the control panels. To my left above the pit was a large room with a large table and multiple chairs sitting around it. I didn't have time to study what was going on in the pit as I was being moved down a hallway passed the office to the left. I was taken to a room where I was told I would need to be able to type so many words a minute. I said I never took typing in school. That wouldn't be a problem, he said and later provided me a computer game (I love computer games) that sent words across the screen that you had to type before they disappeared. The game instructed where to place your fingers and I found I picked typing up fairly quick. Later I was scheduled to take a typing test to prove I could type fast enough and passed easily.

The rest of the day was spent filling out paperwork for a background investigation. I would need to provide details from several years back. It was very exhaustive and included the question about drugs. I gave the same answer as when I was recruited looking at the Staff Sergeant to see his reaction. There was no reaction and we continued on with the paper work. For the next few days I would be asked for more detailed information on certain parts of the paperwork. I was told this was for a top secret security clearance and I would be restricted from certain parts of my job until I was given clearance.

I didn't know at the time but I am wiser now. The fact that I had told the truth about every embarrassing detail of my life to the recruiter when I first joined, it is my belief that I was pigeonholed into this job. They wanted someone they could trust. Someone that wouldn't let embarrassing parts of their life inhibit them or be used to control them. This theory is probably anti-climatic but it really frustrated me early on that I was not to be allowed to program. Now, I understand (or think that i do) why I was not allowed. Though it was frustrating, it was an honor to have held that clearance during my years in the Air Force. In fact, having it has helped me get a couple of jobs outside of the military.

The next month, I was trained to be a command and control specialist in Altus AFB. They let me go to the pit and showed me what entity each of the 50 or so buttons on the control panel would call or alert. In the pit, there were two entities working side by side. Each had a different task but performed the same work. On the base there were KC-135 aircraft and the entity I would not be working with, followed those aircraft. On my side, I would be following the C-5 Galaxy and C-141 Starlifter aircraft. When I first started they had these old computers with green lines and text that we entered data into. Most of the data would be written on folders and stored in the back someplace though. It is funny, it was 1990 and we didn't see a computer with a Microsoft Windows operating system until the middle of 1993. In fact, we were given a computer that would communicate base to base over the internet before we were given a computer with Microsoft Windows. When we received the computer with internet capability, I was so impressed. It made me think about the programmers that got to work with the code to make the communication possible and it frustrated me. Instead of writing things on a folder, we could enter it all into this new computer.

There would be two people in the pit. On one side, there would be an airman or sergeant and on the other there would be an officer. It reminded me of how there is a pilot and a co-pilot for flying most aircraft. Each had their own console of buttons though the officer side might have had a few buttons that the airman/sergeant side did not have. All of the pilots eventually filtered their way to the base operations side of the building where they would check weather, order meals, and whatever else that entity provided. They would then come to the command post to talk with the officer or a commander in the office at the entrance. In fact, the officer in the pit would always be a pilot and for good reason. When in-flight emergencies occurred, the command post officer/pilot would help by giving suggestions as to what the problem was and how to correct it. If it couldn't be fixed they would provide assistance in landing the aircraft so it could get fixed by maintenance crews. During an in-flight emergency, there was a checklist to follow for notifying fire, maintenance, and the base commander. In notifying those entities, the base would be ready to handle any catastrophic situation. During my years at the command post we never had a catastrophe.

Have I mentioned the phones and the buttons on the console? I worked with these for nearly four years. I do not like talking on the phone anymore and will do everything in my power to keep from using one. I hate the sound of a ringing phone and would rather talk to someone in person or, with the technology we have today, text or email them. Even communicating on social sites is better than using the phone. There was a lot of noises in the pit. We had large machines that hummed and ca-chunked constantly. When I'm in a quiet room, I have a ringing in my ear so I always like to have music playing. This is not entirely the pit's fault. I grew up listening to loud music from low bass to high trebles. It all added up.

The commander of the command post was a Major and a pilot. He took a couple of the airman up in a C-141 Starlifter and let us sit up front with him and the co-pilot. It was really cool watching them and C-141 Starlifter Cockpit the engineer get that large beast off of the ground. That was one of coolest things I got to do in the Air Force. One of the worst things I did in the Air Force was chemical warfare training where they stick you in a box with several other trainees. You are outfitted with a gas mask and have it on. They let the gas in and you breath in safely and you are like, that's not so bad. Then they tell you take off your mask and tell them where you are from, your rank, and your name. So, I take a deep breath before taking my mask off and then tell the trainer what he wants to know. He says that is impressive Gas Mask Training that you did not breath in yet. Then I walk out the door thinking I made it and take a deep breath. I am immediately overcome with coughing, snot running out of my nose, and tears running non-stop down my face. The trainer stopped me just long enough to make sure I got a good breath of it. Still, it was an interesting experience and one that I don't look at with regret.

After I was cleared to work from trainers and clearances, I got to work twelve hour shifts for four days and take four days off. I loved that schedule. It gave me a lot of free time that I usually used to visit family and friends. I also used it to visit my Air Force buddies. Before I was honorably discharged I had reached the rank of Senior Airman. They no longer use that rank. Instead I would have been a sergeant (E4).

I have a friend who retired from the Navy a couple of years ago. I always kick myself for not staying in for 20 years and retiring. He was 39 or 40 when he retired. He has the G.I. Bill and he's from Texas so he has the Hazelwood Act as well. Both benefits can be passed to your children. He was particularly lucky as he did not get the G.I. Bill when he enlisted like he should have. He was talked out of it. He qualified for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill though and it is even better than the original G.I. Bill. He went to school after he retired and didn't have to pay a penny of his own money. He has not used the Hazelwood Act and still has a portion of the G.I. Bill left to pass on to his child. I will be passing my Hazelwood Act benefit to one of my children as well. If you go in, make sure you stay in for however many years it takes to retire and that you sign up for the G.I. Bill.

This ends the Air Force career series though I may write more about the Air Force in future posts.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

United States Air Force - Altus AFB, OK

This is part five of a multi-post about my career in the Air Force. Start from the beginning if you like. In part four I detailed my tech school days.

When I got to Altus AFB, I was directed to a building where they welcome new members on base. I was given lots of material to read and sign and then given a tour of the base. The base was not very large but I learned it was a training base for cargo type aircraft. They were so large you C-5 Cargo Aircraft in Flight wondered how they ever got off the ground. The base had a commissary - a grocery store basically, BX (Base Exchange i think) - a merchandise store, a credit union bank, a building to change oil in your automobile if you knew how, and a bowling facility where you could purchase burgers and beer. Then there were the buildings that facilitated all the different functions for the base. The building I would be working in was near the flight line and was just North of the air traffic control building. The base operations building was next door in the same building as the command post. Lastly, I was shown the barracks, where I would be staying. There were lots of older barracks but I was put in the newer barracks on base. The new ones looked more like apartments and I would be staying on the second floor. They were about 1.3 miles from where I would be working.

Altus AFB Map

When I was finished with the tour and told when and where to meet, I moved into my new one bedroom efficiency. It had a bathroom, a sink, a small refrigerator, and a living space with bunk bed. I never had a roommate though. Now most people would hang posters and put up pictures and such. I never did any of that. I guess because I never had a room of my own in my high school years. All I needed was my stereo and my large collection of rock and roll cassettes. It was just a place to sleep and relax to me. Connected to the living quarters was a place you could go to watch MTV (I mean TV) and play pool. There was one short pool table and I played on it all the time. It's interesting to me that I never was very good at the game though.

It's funny how there are some things you have never been taught or even introduced to but are very important in life. One of these things was opening a bank account and keeping it budgeted. I went to the credit union on base and opened an account with auto-deposit. Before I got to tech school I had a card they would scan when I bought something. I didn't know how much was on it, I just used it when I needed something. The credit union provided me with a new debit card and gave me materials teaching me how to budget my account. I didn't take it seriously and put the papers in a pile somewhere in my room. I eventually got into financial trouble and ended up learning the hard way how to budget my account. I did not learn to budget my money though. I remember a time when I had no money and nothing to eat. I wouldn't get another paycheck for two weeks. I don't remember what happened but I had to borrow a little money from a friend so I could purchase peanut butter and bread. Don't let this happen to you. Learn to budget your account and your spending.

In high school I was given a 1976 Cougar when I was old enough to drive. When I left for basic training, my sister was given the car. I had no car and had to walk wherever I wanted to go. Luckily it was still summer (end of July or early August). There was a guy that lived in the same barracks and we hit it off one day. His name was Ivan and he introduced me to his friends. One of his friends was John and the three of us became good friends. I find it interesting that when I started school in Emory the friends I hooked up with played Dungeons & Dragons. My new friends, Ivan and John, both played as well. It is amazing how not having friends can make your life very hard to handle but when you have them, it seems there is nothing you can't handle. I was very happy to have them. They both ended up renting a house in town (off base) and I found myself over there all the time. Before I was honorably discharged, Ivan and John didn't get along very well and things just seemed to disintegrate with all of us. If we were to ever get together again, we would pick up just like old times but for some reason we didn't stay in touch. I miss them. One day we visited a couple off the base who had pet birds and a baby. We played D&D with them and had a good time. They were going to be moving soon and offered me their car if I promised to take over the payments. It's crazy how life hands you things like that. I told them they could count on me to keep up the payments and I did. I never missed one of them and payed it off in full. It was a 1986 white 4 door Buick Skylark. I was able to take the long drive to the Lake Tawakoni area where I grew up and visit family and friends. I no longer had to walk all over the base. Life was good.

The next post will get into the actual job and I might get to that conspiracy theory I have...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

United States Air Force - Tech School

This is part four of a multi-post about my career in the Air Force. Start from the beginning if you like.

In part three I pointed out specific things that happened during basic training and closed with graduation day.

I took a commercial flight out of San Antonio to Biloxi, MS. After I arrived I was transported to Keesler AFB to learn how to do my job. I was taken to a dorm room and told where to meet on Monday morning. It was Friday so I had a couple of days to get acquainted with my room mate and others in the dorm. I was told not to leave the base but everyone in the dorm was going off base for the weekend. They asked if I wanted to go. I did but I was told not to so I wasn't sure what was going on so I said no thanks.

I set up my stereo and played a Pink Floyd cassette I bought before I left Lackland AFB. Pink Floyd is great to listen to for unwinding and de-stressing. While listening, I unpacked the rest of my belongings and Pink Floyd - A Momentary Lapse Of Reason then lay down on the bed and relaxed. Except for going to the chow hall, that is what I did for the whole weekend. A lot had happened to me in a month. It was now July and I still felt like it was June. Felt like I missed a month of my life or lost several years of my life. I was still me but different. Actually I felt alive. I was on my own for the first time in my life having to make the grown up decisions instead of relying on family or friends for guidance. It was scary and exciting at the same time. It is kind of like watching your Dad mow the lawn and want to push that machine around the yard yourself only to find you will be stuck doing it for the rest of your childhood. I could never go back to being the shy little boy. I would move forward as a young man.

Monday morning arrived and I got dressed in my "blues" and marched to the school. All of what I learned is a bit fuzzy now but I learned to disseminate instructions to different entities on a base. How to follow a checklist during in-flight emergencies (when aircraft land at the base I work at and it has a malfunction). In this job, I would know every aircraft on base, where it came from, and where it was destined for. Of course there was a lot more to it but this is what I would be learning about during my stay here.

Each day was filled with eight hours of school and after school we would exercise. I'm pretty sure everyone in tech school was out there at the end of each day. We filled up an entire field and did jumping jacks, push-ups, and running. I don't mention the chow hall but it was visited frequently during the day. After exercising and eating, the rest of the day you were on your own to do what you liked. Studying what you learned that day was encouraged, especially if you had a test the next day.

It's sad really, I am the kind of person who stays to himself. It is very hard to make friends like that. Basically it takes someone extroverted to approach me before I get a new friend. You will notice that I have not mentioned anyone's name I roomed with in basic training and I will not mention any names from tech school either. That is not to say I wasn't liked or talked to but no friendships developed.

The second weekend arrived and the guys left the base again. They asked if I wanted to go but I still felt I better not since I was told not to. I started thinking it was pretty unfair for them to be able to go out and not me though. By the third weekend, I decided I would go with them. We went into Biloxi and it was late. I was in a car, in casual clothes. If it were not for the absence of hair, we might have looked like non-military people. Another reason I had not left the base was because I was told the military people were not liked everywhere. We never encountered anyone that openly disliked us while in the city though. We got to our destination, a club of some sort, and went in. As we walked in it Rocky Horror Picture Show was dark and there were tables and chairs to sit in. In the back, there was a stage and the area around it was empty, probably for dancing I thought. We sat and a guy came out on stage. Have you watched the movie, "Rocky Horror Picture Show"? This guy was dressed like one of the characters. I had never watched the movie myself but I was about to know all there was about it. The guy up front asked if there were any virgins in the audience. I was like why did he just ask that? The guys asked if I had ever seen the movie and I said I had not so they pushed me up on stage. I guess I was a virgin in that I had not watched the movie. They had the virgins hold an apple or some kind of fruit with their necks and pass it to the person next to them so that it got to the far end of the stage. I was lucky in that I was next to a young woman. We worked together passing along the fruit and I couldn't help notice how close our bodies were. When we were done with the induction, I went back and sat with the guys and we watched actors on stage act out the whole movie. We had a great time and got back on base real late.

When I joined the Air Force, I was asked where I would like to be stationed. I was asked for a dream base and several alternate bases I would like to be. I picked Hawaii and then all bases very close to Texas. At the end of my class, we were given our orders to where we would start our career. My orders said I would be going to Iceland. Iceland?? This is not where I asked to go. Quite the opposite, I wanted someplace hot. If I knew where I was headed, I would have kept these orders though. A guy had orders he didn't like and asked if anyone wanted to exchange. I asked where his orders were and he replied Altus AFB in Oklahoma. That was close to home and I jumped on it. Though I'm getting ahead of myself, this base is where I spend the rest of my four years in the Air Force. It is in the middle of nowhere. I was relieved I was not headed to Iceland and he was happy not to be going to Altus.

After I graduated the class, I was shipped home before I would go to Altus AFB. The flight from Biloxi to Houston was the worst flying experience I have ever had. My ears hurt the entire flight and I was miserable. I complained about it and someone told me to chew gum while in the air. So I did that on the flight from Houston to Dallas and it helped. My Mom picked me up in Dallas and we traveled to Lake Tawakoni where I was able to spend a few days with family and friends. I went straight to my girlfriends house and picked her up but I could tell my absence took its toll on our relationship. We broke it off before I went to Altus. I didn't date anyone for a couple of years after that.

In my next post, I tell the story of my career in the Air Force.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

United States Air Force - Basic Training, Graduation

This is part three of a multi-post about my career in the Air Force. Start from the beginning if you like.

In part two I gave you the itinerary of each day of training. In this post, I am going to point out specific things that happened during basic training and close with graduation day.

One day was spent talking with personnel about what job we wanted. Spacial Testing I replied I would like to be a programmer. They said alright, take this test and it will let us know if you are a good match. The test was for graphically inclined people and had no programming questions. It was all shapes and figures you had to fold or move mentally to match the answering image. This makes me think they already knew what I would be doing. Had they tested me in an actual programming language, I would have had no problem impressing them. This is the only thing I was ever disappointed about in the Air Force. "Instead of programming how about these selections?" Only one of them sounded interesting to me and somehow they probably knew which I would choose. I said I think Command and Control Specialist is what I would like to be. They thought that was a good choice. I will tell you more about why I think this was all planned in a future post. We also went over the G.I. Bill. If we gave $100 a month of our paycheck for a year they would give us so much money to go to college. At the time, I think it was $21,000. I didn't like the idea of losing that much money but I agreed to it. I'm glad I did because it paid for most of my Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. Yes, the very thing they wouldn't let me do for the Air Force. I might be a little bitter about that. Make sure you get G.I. Bill if you ever join the armed forces. It is a great benefit!

The layout of the dorm was a rectangular room with a wall down the middle. The heads of each bunk bed were against the middle wall on both sides. I think we had 25 to 30 guys in our squadron. I slept in the bottom bed. Against the borders of the walls were the lockers. At the far end of the room was a wall that you walked around to get to the showers and bathroom. There was one exit (maybe two but I don't recall another exit) and since we were on the second floor, we had to walk down stairs to get out. There were no windows and the ceiling had panes of florescent lights. The floors were light green with square tiles. The walls were yellow. The fact that I still remember this 23 years later lets you know this place really left an impression.

The first week was hard. You had to learn to put on your uniform as quickly as possible including lacing up boots. They would ride you until you got it all done and I would fumble around trying to quickly do things and that just made things worse. On top of that, the beds had to be made perfectly. After a couple days, I got smart and found a way to slip in my covers without messing up the bed too much. I would still have to tighten everything when I got up but it was easier. Remembering how to tie shoes came back to me after a couple of days and things started to get a little easier. It's amazing how being harassed non-stop will make you forget the easiest of things.

My Uncle joined the Marines right before I joined the Air Force and his basic training was very physical. The Air Force is much less physical and is more about getting into your head. We would get demerits, pieces of paper letting us know what we did wrong. The one with the least of these would get an extra ribbon to wear on their uniform after graduation. Basically the one person the drill sergeants never saw or harassed. No, I was not the one. It is probably because I would always laugh at myself when I screwed up. That infuriated the drill sergeants more when I did that but I couldn't help myself. I'm sure they thought I was laughing at them or something. I don't know how many of those demerit slips I received but they kept coming.

I remember one time, about the third week, I was asked to go the women's dorm to help with something they themselves could have done. I think they were trying to get into the women's heads by bringing a guy over. They probably told the women a guy was coming and when I got there it was a big let down since I weighed 119 pounds and had no muscle definition :)  I think I got a demerit while I was helping there as well. Probably forgot to report or screwed it up somehow having an audience of women. Hmm, maybe they were messing with my mind that day :)

There was one day we raked the grounds around a building on base. I hated raking at home but being cooped up in that dorm room will sure change your mind about things. I love being in the sun and getting to be outside doing anything was better than being in the dorm. As I said previously, I enjoyed the exercise and marching. We would practice marching on a field and then march around the base. Without the backpack weighing me down, I could actually look around and see my surroundings and enjoy the mid-June fresh air. There were large cargo planes, small jets, some moving, some sitting still, and I wanted to see them all up close. I would not be allowed to during training though.

Remember the chili mac meal I talked about? Well they served that a lot, much to my enjoyment. I couldn't get enough of it. When I said it was the best meal I had ever had, it was because I was starving, not because it tasted spectacular. The food was good but it is made for hundreds of people. Our squadron made a song about the chili mac. It is much too hard to sing in this venue but put yourself into a southern state of mind and sing, "Chiii-iily Mac, Let me tell you about, Chiii-iiily Mac..."

The week before graduation we were allowed to go to a club and mingle with the women in basic training. I danced with one of them, and had I not had a girlfriend back home, I would have asked her for her number. We did not kiss, just enjoyed each other's company for the short time we were allowed.

As you can tell, it was not hell all the time. Our squadron had a lot of fun during our down times. We got to go see the San Antonio Spurs play and we were the loudest in the arena. Our drill sergeants enjoyed us and near the end became much less hostile toward us. They break you down and build you back up. It is really an interesting psychological experience. Before I went to the Air Force I walked around with my head and eyes looking at my feet. I was very shy. Actually I'm still somewhat shy but less than before training. After I graduated basic training, my head never looked down and my eyes were always looking everywhere. I would say my posture improved but my Dad instilled that lesson in me when I was young. Still, with my head no longer looking down, my posture had to improve even more.

On graduation day, we put our "blues" on. The drill sergeants were not harassing us to hurry and we got ourselves looking sharp. Shiny shoes, straight tie, ironed shirt and pants, and hat sitting as it should on the head. We did this for ourselves, not for anyone else. This was our time to shine, to show the world, our superiors we would not let them down when we left basic training and went into our "chosen" career positions. Yes, we were proud of the men we had Graduation Review become. After we were ready and in position, we marched to the graduation ceremony. There were hundreds of us, men and women. Each squadron standing in parade rest waiting for the chance to march in front of the officers waiting to accept us as soldiers of the Air Force. When it was our squadron's turn, the drill sergeant called us to attention and marched us in front of the officers. We were commanded to look right (eyes right) and salute as we marched by. The officer saluted back and we marched back to our position to await the rest of the squadrons' graduation march.

After graduation, we were able to visit with our family and friends. My Mom, my girlfriend's Mom, and my girlfriend came to the graduation. I was so glad to see them all. Still in my blues, we visited the River Walk in San Antonio and talked about basic training. After the day ended and I had to return, I said goodbye to them and went back to the dorm to await the journey to tech school where we would learn about our new job...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

United States Air Force - Basic Training, the First Day

This is part two of a multi-post about my career in the Air Force. Start from the beginning if you like.

Lackland AFB Welcome Gateway

The plane arrived in San Antonio in early June and the group I was with walked off the plane where we were herded to a bus Getting off bus destined for Lackland AFB (Air Force Base). I had heard horror stories of military basic training and expected to be pulled off the bus and pushed and kicked around. I was a little worried as we drove up to our drop off point. There were men and women in uniform looking real serious. I watched the others get off the bus to see what was going to happen to me as I walked down the isle of the bus. They were just being put in a line. No kicking, no screaming, just barked orders to get in line. In your face

I got in line and and the drill sergeant told us we were nothing but worms but that he would make us better. Now, I had been barked at during my time painting so I was a little accustomed to it. Of course, this was a lot worse but I found myself enduring fine. We were marched to our dorm where we would spend the next five weeks learning how to be soldiers and men of honor.

We were put in a square room where we sat on the floor while drill sergeants passed out our handbooks and we learned how to address them before we could speak. When they were through, they lined us up and went down the line asking us our name and where we were from. Now, they were not interested in the least about this information. They wanted to see if we remembered how to address them before answering the question. Some got it right and some stumbled over the long phrase. When it came my turn, I fumbled it. The correct phrase was "Sir/Ma'am, Airman Poland reports as ordered" and then you answer the question. I think I changed a few words around or replaced reports with reporting. Oh yea, not good. At the time it was not funny but now it is really funny to me.

We were given our chores for the time we would be there. The chores were not to be changed for the duration. I got lucky somehow and did not have to clean the latrine. My chore was washing clothes for the men in my squadron. I thought to myself, I should have watched Mom more closely when she washed clothes for our family. It was actually nice to wash the clothes because you got away from all the drill sergeants for a while and got to relax and reflect on the day's events.

We went to sleep the first night and it seemed like it lasted about a minute. We were rudely awakened to blaring trumpets in the early hours and were rushed to get dressed and make our beds. We wore the same clothes we came with. Wake up I had jeans, a shirt, and some high-tops that were untied but tight enough to stay on my feet. My attempt at making my bed was not near good enough for the military and the drill sergeant tore off the covers and had me try again. I still don't think it was good enough the second time but he let it go and I stood sleepily waiting for the next orders. I didn't wait long as we were ushered outside of the dorm under a tin roof supported by steel beams The ground was concrete and we stood in line with many other squadrons. Though it was summer, the morning was a little brisk for my liking. The Air Force song came on and we were to sing it. I love that song til this day but I hated it then. Who sings that early in the morning? After that we were taught the commands attention, parade rest, and at ease. As a marcher in the band this was nothing new to me. Of course it was much stricter but I found it easier than most of the guys.

When they were satisfied that we knew what to do, we were put in parade rest and one member of our group was picked to go in front of a drill sergeant in the chow hall to get permission for our squadron's turn to eat. I did not get to see how the poor guy did but it took a while before we were allowed to eat. When we were allowed in we went through the line stepping side to side down the line. When we got our food and sat down at our squadron's table, we were told we had very little time to eat. We were to drink a full glass of water before eating as well. I hate drinking water; never have liked it. I gulped it down slowly because I am not a fast drinker. When I finally got around to eating, I took a couple of bites and was forced to stop eating and take my tray of dishes to the kitchen. This first day was turning out to be a very bad day.

We were marched to the military store where we would purchase our uniforms and get our hair cut off. I knew the haircut was coming and actually looked forward to it. One less thing to slow me down. We were instructed to buy a backpack, two sets of camouflage and two sets of "blues" uniforms. Both sets consisted of pants, shirts, belts and shoes. The camouflage shirt was long sleeved and the blues shirt was short sleeved. The camouflage shoes were actually boots while the blues were special dress shoes. We were ordered to buy polish for the boots/shoes so we would later be harassed about not having shiny enough foot wear. We packed everything we bought into the backpack and strapped it to our backs. The backpack was tall. It started at the top of my head and ended at my butt. It was heavy with the newly purchased items. We marched back to the dorm and it was the hardest march I have ever done. I think my back bows inward permanently now because of that march as I tried my best to keep my back straight while marching.

When we got back to the dorm and put our equipment in our lockers we were off to school. I just got out of school and wasn't looking forward to more of it. We would be taught the laws that were important to our careers and each rank of each of the armed forces. It was a lot to learn and I probably didn't do all that well at it but they passed me along. Mostly the laws part was what I didn't get. The rest of it was interesting and I was able to retain the information.

After school we worked out by doing push-ups, running around the base, and marching. This was actually some of my favorite parts of basic training. I was not in the best of shape but I was young and had no problem with the exercise except the push-ups. Luckily the push-ups were not a big part of the work out. Close to the end of basic training we went through an obstacle course Obstacle course consisting of crawling on our stomachs, running over tires, jumping over barriers, swinging on ropes, climbing walls, etc. This was my favorite part of basic training. This is how a park should be built. Lots of fun.

Lunch time finally arrived and I was looking forward to it. This time I took my tray of food to the squadron's table, I drank the water as fast as I could and was able to get all my food down before being interrupted. It was the best food I had ever had, I was so hungry. They had chili-mac and mashed potatoes. The only thing missing was ketchup but I probably didn't have time to put that on my food anyway.

We went back to the dorm for some down time and mail was passed out. Of course the first day you don't expect to get mail but this is when we would get our mail and write to our family. I wrote my family when I could and they wrote back with encouraging words and love. I missed them all. We got to make a phone call ever once in a while and I always called home. It was good to hear their voices and though the call was short it made my day.

Not all the guys in my squadron had it easy. One actually jumped the fence and went AWOL. I do not know what happened to him except they caught him. He never came back to our squadron to finish his training. Another guy was made the planter. The planter is someone who is approached by the drill sergeant to plant strings on clothing hanging in someone else's locker or something to get someone in trouble. When he got caught he had a hard time for the rest of his training. I'm pretty sure soap wrapped in a towel might have been involved one night. If a drill sergeant approaches you and threatens you to do this, do not do it. I was never approached so I don't know how the conversation went. If you are unable to decline the offer, then just plant the strings on your own stuff. The hell after getting caught is not worth it.

During the evening hours we would have our last meal of the day, do our chores, shine our shoes, study, and get ready to do it all over again the next day...

The story continues here.

United States Air Force - Recruitment

I actually have written about my Air Force career but not extensively. Some of the words are the same in this entry as the original summarized version.

Before I graduated high school, I took the SAT and visited the East Texas State University campus in Commerce, TX (now Texas A&M Commerce). I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I don't remember why I chose to talk with an armed forces recruiter but that is what I ultimately did. I'm not sure if my Mom asked me about it or if I heard my Grandfather was in the military or what. I know that I definitely chose the Air Force as the branch I wanted to join because my Grandfather did. My Mom took me to the Air Force recruiter in Greenville, TX and the Sergeant (don't remember his exact rank) really seemed interested in getting me to join. My SAT scores were average with my math being my highest score. We talked and talked, watched videos, and discussed what I might like to do. I didn't know what I wanted but I knew I liked working with computers. I had also taken a Pascal programming class in high school and enjoyed that. So I told the Sergeant that I would like to program for the Air Force. He asked if I was sure and asked if I would like some other jobs. At that point I had got it my head I would be a programmer and said that is what I want to do. The Sergeant said alright and asked if I would like to fill out the paperwork right then? I looked at Mom and she looked like she was all for it so I said alright. We went through a lot of questions, including asking about alcohol and drug use. As a young kid, I had tried alcohol and one time even marijuana. I told the Sergeant the truth and the look on Mom's face was priceless. She couldn't believe it. I was always a good kid. I even turned it down one time and told my sister about it. She told Mom and MEPS Center I'm sure it worried her but made her proud. She was definitely not proud to hear that I had, once in my life, used drugs. This isn't something I'm proud of either and I only tell it because it will be relevant to future writings about my career in the Air Force.

After the paperwork was finished and everything was in order my Mom and I left. The date for enlistment was a couple of months away. I was to meet back and take a Greyhound to the Greyhound Bus MEPS center in Dallas, TX. When the day to leave arrived and I had said my goodbyes to my family and friends, my Mom took me to catch the bus. We hugged and I got on the bus not knowing much about the "real" world. I was excited and scared to be on my own. I was truly alone.

I was little scrawny kid of 18 years, weighed about 119 pounds, and stood five foot and eleven inches. I let my hair grow out in high school and it was shoulder length. When the bus pulled in at the Dallas location, I got off and walked to the MEPS center having gotten instructions from the recruiter before loading up. When I walked in I was directed where to wait. All branches of the military were represented and I was asked to join different branches saying it was not too late to change. This shocked me and I definitely did not want to join any other branch so I said no thank you. I was placed with a group of new recruits and lined up so that our naked bodies could be poked and prodded to make sure we were fit to join. Yep, the world as I knew it had just turned upside down. This was very unusual. After everything checked out, we were sworn in and there would be no backing out or joining any other branches. Air Force Logo We were owned by the United States Air Force.

We would be shipped out the next day and were given accommodations for the night in a motel. The next morning we were delivered to the DFW Airport and boarded a plane to Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX...

Continue reading part two