Monday, November 26, 2007

George # 5 -- USCG SNET

When I posted last June about George's boot camp graduation, George was already in California attending Electronic Technician school. He had been there since ten days after boot camp, (though he managed a four day leave to be home for Christmas), but his school proper started the first week of January. Electronic technician school is one of the longest "A" schools in the Coast Guard. [An "A" school is one where the basics of some "rating" (that's a job description) are taught.] ET A-school is the equivalent of an associates' degree in electronics, without the general courses like English and history that a community college would require.

he was there until the end of July, it was not nearly as "traumatic" for me as his mother to have him most of a continent (and three time zones) away as it had been to have him three states away in boot camp. The reason is simple -- the internet. George stays logged in to Instant Messenger pretty much 24/7, and checks his email obsessively, so it was easy to just plop down at the computer and have a little chat -- and believe me, I knew when his lunch break and end of classes worked out to in my time zone! It wasn't quite as good as having him nearby, but it was more communication than I had had with any of his sisters while they were in college.[ Even when they were only 1 1/2 hours away, either I (for Arwen) or they (for Rosie and Maggie) didn't have high speed internet easily available.] So we chatted at least a couple of times a week.

And sometimes we could even do better than that. George and Arwen both have Macbook laptops, which have built in video capability. So they got in the habit of having regular video chats, especially since Camilla was born while George was in boot camp, and he didn't want to miss any more than he needed to of his niece. And eventually he bought us a web-cam as well. I mentioned in my quick post on Saturday that we were going to play Trivial Pursuit with George by video, which was great! But even more fun was watching Camilla get all excited about seeing "Crazy Uncle George", whom she clearly recognizes!

George, of course, is no longer in California. He graduated from ET school the 28th of July, which makes him a SeamaN Electronics Technician (SNET) in the US Coast Guard, hence the cryptic title of this post! He was home on leave for a little over a week, and then his dad and I helped him pack our van and his car "Fang" for the move to his first duty station in Duluth MN. Fang is a little blue 1988 Aries K which I inherited from my mother which George has driven since he got his license. Technically it was the "kids' car", but George loved it and named it -- a tradition in our family -- and had to take it with him, so he paid us for it. He even got a vanity plate that says "USCG ET". (He left off the SN because at the end of December he will be eligible for promotion to Electronics Technician third class -- ET-3.)

One of the privileges of doing well in A-school is the opportunity to have first choice of the available duty assignments. George wasn't top of his class, but he was in the top half, so the Petty Officer in charge of duty selection was very surprised when George chose Duluth. Usually Ninth District (the Great Lakes) assignments get shoved down to the bottom of the class, and several people asked George why he wanted to go where there was so much snow when warmer spots were still available. His answer: "I'd rather have snow up to my armpits than spend another winter where there isn't any!"

Duluth is a beautiful city, set on a hill side where every street has a view of the lake. George found a nice little apartment in a working-class neighborhood not far from the hospital, and his dad and I helped him settle in. He reported to his duty station, and only after a few days found out from some of the other Coasties that his place is in the "Hillside Ghetto". All I can say is that the people who decided that that was a ghetto have obviously never been anywhere near Detroit! One of the first things he did (while we were still there, and we only stayed 24 hours!) was to get broadband installed in his apartment. So we are in constant touch, and are glad to here about how well things are going for him. The guys from his unit hang out together (bowling, or eating out, or "game night"), and his workload is reasonable, except when the guys at _______ (a station about 2 hours away that his unit supports) break something again. But the best thing of all is -- he'll be home for Christmas!!


Jen said...

Trival Pursuit by video is such a good idea! I love Trival Pursuit but my husband is sick of it. Too bad I don't have a web-cam or I would want to play next time!

Lindsay said...

I'm glad that things are going so well for him. What a relief it must be for you! :o)

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