Thursday, April 29, 2010

PAT Platoon!

I'm station here in Kingston on something called PAT platoon, all that means is that I've got a squadron that I am apart of where all members are awaiting training.  Overall, it's a pretty fun place to be with lots of time off and a great deal of variety in tasks you may be doing from day to day.  I've never had to do anything like sweep the parade square, our taskings can be anything from driving folks around to helping instruct highly sensitive courses.

At any rate, now that you know where I am let me just say that it's been a interesting week here on PAT.  I'm actually on a short duration 2 week course called LSVW training (Light Skin Vehicle Wheeled).  I'm learning how to drive a truck, more or less.  It's a nice way to pass the time to be sure, but it's a busy time of year here.

For example, we just found out yesterday that we need to move out of our current barracks and into a different one across the base.  We got a solid 12 hours notice, more than enough time!  It turns out that there is a rather large group of reservists coming who need the space we are in.  Since they are here to do immediate training and we are still awaiting training... we have to move.

The move is simple enough, however it caught me while on a course and doing countless paperwork to pick up my new car, a lot of which involved trips into town.  Thankfully some new friends have been playing taxi to same me money on actual taxis.  All in all, it went pretty smoothly but there was a lot of cranky folks about to be sure.  Also my new room smells like feet.

I tried to weasel my way into staying in my current room, when asked when my main training course starts I said 'It starts on the 2nd' and the guy responded with, 'Oh, allright then you don't have to move.  Just stay in your room.'  I was pretty excited, until he looked at his paperwork and then looked back up to me with what could only be called an accusatory stare.

'What month?' he asked.

Turns out I'm moving anyway ;x

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I may have missed a few weeks here.

The camera man said I wasn't allowed to smile!

Well, it appears I will have to back update for the final weeks of basic training.  There are some rather funny stories there so it should provide for some future entertainment.

As you may have guessed, I have managed to graduate from basic and moved on to Kingston, ON for further training.  I am proud of my accomplishments during my course and I am also proud to be one step closer to serving my country.

It means a lot to me, no matter what role I end up playing.  I am proud to be doing something that isn't creating the next great alarm clock or sitting in endless pointless meetings.  It never made me happy, no matter how good I was at it.  Now I do push-ups and run endlessly, but I am *happy* because the overall goal is to serve Canada and it's people rather than myself.

I run because I may have to run to help a friend, an injured soldier or my country.  I do push-ups because some day I may have to carry something heavy through rough terrain.  No matter how painful or annoying things become it all has a point and a goal, and most of all, that goal is a good one.

I will be doing a few updates this week regarding my final weeks of basic, future updates will detail my ongoing training here in Kingston and various stories you might find entertaining.

As always, thank you for your support.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week Seven!

Well here we are, the start of week seven.  Week six has been interesting, when last I posted I talked about being section senior and expecting that to change - turns out my instructors had different plans as I am still the section senior.  I'm told by the recruits in my section that I'm doing a good job, so good in fact that our instructor has had to become more ... creative in finding problems with our inspections.  Who dusts the slats that hold up a mattress anyway?!?!

This week we have been the duty platoon here at BMQ (Basic Military Qualification) which means that we have all been doing odd jobs around the garrison such as cleaning the infinite lockers and cleaning up the bar after a night of partying.  All told this week has been pretty easy, with lots of early days and lenient timings.  However, we did receive our weapons this week.  I'm the proud owner of a C7A2 rifle, at least temporarily.  With the rifle comes a whole new set of responsibilities as leaving it unsecured or losing it is a chargeable offense - something none of us want to do but so far 3 of us have managed.

All told this week has been pretty quiet, I've spent a lot of my spare time working on my room or polishing boots - not the most exciting thing in the world but it passes the time.  I have never been the most patient person in the world, however somehow in this crazy environment I am finding I am more patient than most.  I don't mind waiting in lineups or standing endlessly, I don't get irritated or upset I just wait.  Strangely enough, I think that is a large part of the training here - teaching you some mature patience.  Besides, after a particularly difficult drill instruction or physical training, standing in a line is a welcome relief.

For those interested, here is a brief rundown of the rifle currently sitting about 2 feet away from me.

Name: C7A2
Characteristics: Gas operated, Magazine fed, Air cooled semi-automatic or automatic.
Length: 1.0m
Weight: 3.2kg and 3.8kg fully loaded.
Rate of Fire: 700 to 940 rounds per minute
Optical Sight (C79A2): 200 meters to 800 meters.

It's quite a monster, I'm told it is highly accurate with minimal recoil.  It's also very pretty.

This last bit is largely only for my friend Waiken.  I want to congratulate him on his new marriage and more importantly on the little baby he has on the way.  I hope you have a happy and healthy baby, you are a lucky man.  I also wanted to let him know that I live on the seventh floor, and to get to my room I have to take the second stairwell.  This means that the sign on my door is 7-2.

Go figure.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Following the site,

Sadly I've realized that becoming a follower of the site does not actually notify you when the site is updated, which to me at least defeats the purpose of such a feature.  I've added a way to subscribe to the site as well, which will display updates on popular search engines homepage.

I suggest using google, and here is how you use it:
1. On the right find the Subscribe To: box
2. Click on the "Posts" dropdown box.
3. Click on the search engine of your choice, again, I suggest using Google.
4. Click the 'Add to Google Homepage' button
5. You're done!

If you are using google as your homepage it will now display every time you open your browser.  I'm not sure about the other options as I didn't test any of them.

Alternatively you can also just check back once a week :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week Six!

The basic training course lasts for 13 weeks, this means that mid week six you've hit the half way point.  An exciting time to be sure and one that I'm quite looking forward to as it also happens to be the time when we are presented with our rifles.  I'm told by various people and the strong and vibrant rumor mill that the rifles are a lot of work.  That being said... I am still excited to be granted my weapon.

These past few weeks since coming back have been difficult but rewarding, our 2IC jokingly told us upon our return that our staff would take it easy on us after the holidays.  This turned out to not be true, it was quite a surprise to go from the quiet home life to the physically intensive lifestyle of basic training.

Over the past few weeks we've done rucksack marches, endless physical training, spent time in the gym, written tests, become first aid qualified, been inspected every second day and done endless amounts of running.  During all this our platoon has started to come together, however as we grow closer what amounts to sibling rivalries appear.  It's part of the process, however not my favorite part.

I have been the section senior for my section these past few weeks and while it has been challenging at times, my previous experience as a manager helped me quite a lot.  I found it easy to take charge of situations and devise the best way to handle our day to day duties as a section.  This should end on Monday and while part of me will miss the authority to get things done, another part of me is grateful that I will no longer have to act as a mediator for the previously mentioned rivalries.

As far as the course goes, I dare say I'm enjoying it.  The physical demands are many, but each time I meet or exceed the goals set in front of me I grow a little more confident and perhaps a little more capable.  Basic Training isn't easy, at times it's frustrating, but while I've never really understood the phrase 'Nothing worth doing is easy' it is the perfect example of it and has taught me the meaning of the words.  This course isn't easy, but I wouldn't give it up for anything.  I have a powerful will to complete the goals, tests and training in this course because when I do - I'll be better off for it.

Thanks for reading, I'm off to shine some boots.
(They're very very shiny by the way.  I'm good at it, as it turns out.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Updating fail...

Ok so... being home for Christmas means spending time with family and friends and while this is my excuse for not updating I'm told it's not a very good one. I have a lot to tell you folks, so buckle down and settle in... perhaps grab yourself a coffee?

For starters, lets get the dates out of the way. I arrived home tired and sick to be greeted by my family and girlfriend at the airport on the 17th of December and will depart in much the same manner on the 9th of January. Granted, I'll be less sick and tired. It was certainly great to see them but perhaps the nicest surprise was the sign they made for me that my nephew Lucas was holding which welcomed me home in grand fashion.

Christmas and indeed New Years eve went well full of good food, great people and an exciting new girlfriend. I won't bore you with the details but I sure do love my friends and family. They're good people.

Now, I assume you don't want to read about my vacation and perhaps are more interested in my experiences at the garrison in St. Jean... no worries friends, I'll share with you!

Basic Training is a 13 week course that takes people from all walks of life and indoctrinates them into the military lifestyle, aimed to teach military values and discipline the course is meant to be challenging and at times - brutal. However the course is not unfair and you are taught all that you need to achieve the goals set before you. Thus far I have been tested, poked, prodded and "motivated" far more than I have been before and while every day presents a new challenge I continue to meet them with my platoon of 60 some odd people and 6 instructors.

A normal day for us starts at around 5am and begins with morning PT (Physical Training). This is a 30-45 minute training session that involves a great deal of cardio... in other words, we run a lot. After a very quick shower and an even faster breakfast the last minute preparations for room inspections take place - there is a lot of hurried cleaning and folding as promptly at 7am it's time for the instructors to look over our rooms and see if they meet military specifications. Normally our first timing after inspection is 7:45 so it's a rush to lock up everything in our rooms again, put on the dress of the day, and head downstairs to "begin" the day.

The day can and does take on a variety of different challenges, we can be in a class learning about the rules of engagement and how they apply to us for 45 minutes then in a massive drill hall learning how to salute directly after. However what ties it all together is endless marching. We march everywhere and the rules of being in ranks must be adhered to... in other words, we can't talk and must present ourselves properly. This poses more of a challenge to some of my new friends than it does to others as you can imagine. We have some pretty chatty people in our platoon and have gotten "called" on it more often than I'd like.

All in all though, our days are very structured and while we may not know exactly what we're going to do next, we know that any information we do actually need has been given to us. We are often surprised, but rarely unprepared.

Lunch and Dinner are always exciting as 2500 recruits all attempt to eat in a 2 hour window all the while aware that they have someplace to be that they simply can't be late for. However, somehow it all works out and generally this is the more entertaining times of the day as recruits talk about whats happened so far today or what someone managed to do to earn the wrath of an instructor.

Classes, physical training and marching continues until around dinnertime and then if we've been good the remainder of the evening is ours. Bedtime remains around 9:00 and we are often running about until the last minute preparing for the next day.

That gives you an idea of the average day in the life as it were... however it doesn't quite cover the feel of it all. You're in a massive complex, everyone around you in in uniform and there is a certain tangible pride. You go from feeling a little silly when you first put on your uniform and learn to march properly to feeling a little odd when you put on civilian clothes and cease marching. It's an effective course and to be honest, I'm quite thrilled to be taking it.

They are teaching us lessons here than go beyond meeting timings or learning rank structures. They are teaching us how to be members of the Canadian Forces and of that... I am very proud.

I've added various pictures into a slideshow that should be available on the right navigation bar. If pictures are your thing you can see various things there;

  • My family at Christmas
  • My room before and after getting ready for inspection
  • Pictures from the platoons trip to the war museum
  • Random stuff I found entertaining.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Home again,

There is nothing like coming home and even though it's only been a month it's great to be surrounded by friends and family again. I hope to do several longer updates while I'm back, with pictures, but for now you get another short update from the phone @ my sisters couch.

I head back on the 9th of Jan so there will be plenty of time.

Merry Christmas!

- Michael