This one is about the the incredible support structure at this base. Permanant Air Force bases have an assortment of “services”: a fitness center, lounge/bar/club, library, laundry/dry cleaners, a finance office, movie theater, food service, chapel services, and medical services. They usually operate at hours similar to civilian versions.

All of that stuff has been made available to us here 22-24 hours per day, 7 days per week! Since I’m working nights, it’s fascinating knowing that I can grab a Starbucks coffee* at 11pm, check out a book from the library at 6am, cash a check at 3am, or see “Marley and Me” at the theater at 8am! The fitness centers are open around the clock, laundry drop off/pick up is available around the clock and many of the other services are closed 1-2 hours per day just for cleaning.

The WiFi here is great, by the way! It’s a decent connection, but I’ve been plagued with having to find an available power outlet…along with everyone else with laptops whose batteries don’t last that long. So my first day here I dropped about $100 on not one but TWO batteries (I have two battery ports, since my DVD drive is broken). I can’t wait till they get here…I can plant myself anywhere in the “base services” area and blog or post Facebook statuses…

I’ve attempted the webcam thing with the family just once so far, my work hours have made it hard to merry up with Dave’s and the boys’ school and sleep schedules, but I think that’s going to improve as my schedule settles in better. We have a couple of prime opportunities on weekends…when my battery arrives it should be better. I can plant myself near the WiFi source and get better signals.

When I was younger I used to balk at the limited hours other base agencies would have and the premium placed on morale services available to the troops. Remember, I’m a weatherman…and weather stops for no mission!

The Air Force is often ridiculed by the other services for how laid back they seem — think about it: Air Force troops historically have the best quarters and best services in any given war…

…and because of it, the best morale of all the services and (in my opinion) the most fortitude to work their tails off when it comes time to do so! Like here at this base, right now!

The last time I was in a hostile fire zone, I was a 1st Lieutenant. I was working 16 hour days — and expected the same from everyone around me and didn’t think it was fair that I had to work 16 hours per day, and others on the base only had to work 12 hour days.

I’m now older and I wiser, I guess, and since I’ve arrived I’ve been constantly processing my information as a leader instead of a follower. I’m watching the younger troops’ well being like a hawk and constantly asking if they’re happy with the food and dorms, if they’re getting enough sleep, can they communicate with their families enough, and is there anything more they’d need in terms of morale items? Yes, even in the 4-5 days I’ve been here!

That being said, here’s a link to a photo album I’ve started that covers some of the morale and quality of life items we’re provided over here. You also can enjoy the stunning scenery here. We have strict restrictions on what we can/can’t photograph: no operational stuff, such as aircraft or buildings that contain mission-related stuff and no foreigners without their permission. Some of the things I’d want to photograph often have foreigners around so I’m avoiding it.

*Yes, you read right: We have Starbucks here. See the photo album if you don’t believe me! YUM!