Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Year in Review

The last year has brought some pretty substantial changes to my life. I have a new job, live in a new place, and have a new car. About the only thing that is the same in my day-to-day life is the same old furniture that I have been dragging around with me from Hawaii to Guam, back to Hawaii, to Pullman for school, and now here in Bremerton. At least something has remained the same. I need some consistency in my life and I have been parking my butt on that couch for quite a while now.

As for the changes, being a nuclear engineer at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is certainly preferable to being a college student, at least for me. I am sure that some of my twenty-some year old co-workers would rather be back in college rather than working. I didn't really have anything in particular against going to school, however it is much nicer to have money flowing in rather than having money flowing out each month. In addition, while I was in school, I always felt that there was more that I could be doing for my classes or something that I should be studying when I was sitting at home which made it difficult to really relax. Now that I have a job working with classified material all of the time, I am simply not allowed to bring my job home with me. Leaving work at work is pure bliss in my book.

My new home is Bremerton. For those of you that have been to Bremerton, you may not consider this much of an upgrade for my hometown. I always liked Bremerton and I still do. I would probably enjoy living in Hawaii more, but Bremerton is better than Pullman in my book. At least here, I can find other middle-aged sailors and ex-sailors to sit around with and bitch about the state of the world. In Pullman, every place that you went was filled with college students, most of whom were much younger than me.

Another big improvement is the weather. If you hate rain, you wouldn't agree with me there, but what I really hate is the cold weather that would be around for so long each year on the other side of the Cascades. Snow is pretty to look at, but beyond that, I don't have much use for it.

I know lots of people like to ski and snowboard. I went skiing a few times when I was younger. I fell down the last time I went skiing. I never thought that falling on my butt would hurt so much. I was bruised for a week and decided I didn't really like skiing.

Another reason I dislike cold weather was a slip and fall while I was walking to the bus stop in Pullman about three years ago. I ended up sliding into a concrete curb and breaking my leg. I will take the drizzle and gray skies of Bremerton over the ice and snow of Pullman any day.

Anyway, my new job and new home are pretty good upgrades over what I had last New Years Eve. I also got a new car. I ended up trading in my old Thunderbird for a new Prius. I like the new car, but the old Thunderbird has gotten me where I needed to go since 1997. I definitely felt a twinge of regret as I traded it in on the new car. I had decided that when the next big repair came up on the Thunderbird, I would be getting a new car.

One day, while I was sitting at a stoplight, my windows started to fog up. I turned on the defogger and had steam shooting out of the vents. I drove straight to the dealer and got my Prius that night. It wasn't too much of a snap decision. I had done some research and talked to a few people that own one, and had known for months that a Prius would be my next car. I do miss the Thunderbird, but it was time for a new car.

All-in-all, most aspects of my life have gotten better in the last year. I hope that everyone else out there had productive and happy years and hope that 2010 brings joy and prosperity to your families. Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shifting Gears

One of the things that I did not really consider when I came to work at the shipyard is how much shift work there would be. Truth is, I was kind of looking forward to working mostly days, but I have probably spent the majority of my time on swings. The last few weeks, I have been working the graveyard shift.

Although I had been looking forward to working days, I found that shift work really hasn't been that bad. There are several factors that I had not considered that make shift work easier as a civilian than as a sailor.

Probably the biggest thing is that the shifts are truly 8 hour shifts for me. I don't have to come in early for a brief and stay late to clean or to talk to the day shift managers about the shift. Granted, this is only true because I am still a trainee. The qualified guys do have to come in a little early to do a pre-shift tour and stay a little late to conduct a proper turnover, but an important difference is that as a civilian, you get paid to work extra hours. Nice. Overtime helps a lot because you get to pick up a little extra pay and management has an incentive to keep you within your normal 8 hour day.

As a nub, I have only had to work overtime a few times, and while I certainly don't want to work weeks and weeks on end without a day off, a few hours of overtime here and there are nice. It is certainly less hours than I would put in while I was sealed in a submarine far underwater for weeks and weeks on end, and I get paid extra for it!

Another thing is shift differential. I get paid a little extra for each hour that I put in between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. This isn't a huge amount of money, but it gives me a little extra money in my pocket every few weeks.

All in all, shift work is a lot better as a civilian than as a sailor. Working graveyard shift while the weather is gloomy here in the Pacific Northwest isn't so bad either, since the nights have been only a little darker than the days for the last few weeks. Might not be so great in the summer.

I will be shifting gears again after I finish work in the morning and coming back on days. Just in time for Christmas.

I sincerely hope that everyone out there has a Merry Christmas and that the coming New Year is fantastic for all of you!!