Bright Lights, Big City
Date Published: 18 November 2004
As I said in my last post, I recently went back to FOB Caldwell for a quick trip. The trip there and back was uneventful, gladly. Not having been there for a couple of months, it was interesting to see what had changed, and also to compare it with FOB Bernstein now that I've lived at the latter for a while. The closest analogy I can offer is that it's like going from a rural farm or small town to the big city. Caldwell has a lot more people than Bernstein. There are vehicles everywhere, and parking and traffic are both issues. Not so much at Bernstein. There are tall buildings at Caldwell (well, tall for Iraq -- 3 stories) -- I don't think there are any multi-story buildings in Bernstein. At night, Caldwell is relatively well-lit, so you can get around reasonably well after sunset. At Bernstein, especially if you haven't been there for a while, when it gets dark you'd better have a flashlight because it is dark. At Caldwell there are a bunch of local shops with a variety foods, dvds, and other stuff. Bernstein also has stores, but there's different things at every one.
Caldwell also has a lot more females than Bernstein. I think Bernstein has a total of 7. When I was at Caldwell I certainly didn't think there were a lot of females, because there aren't (probably 10 or 20 males to each female), but having been at Bernstein for a while now with almost none... it's very noticeable. Of course, I'm married, but I'm still a guy, so I enjoy seeing and interacting with women.
Keeping with the big city - small town analogy, Caldwell also is a lot busier. Everything is more in a hurry there, it seems like, and there's a lot of 'hustle and bustle', whereas Bernstein is sort of spread out, and a little slower paced. For instance, the Bernstein chow hall is a good mile (literally) from where I live, and there's not enough vehicles available for all the soldiers (including myself) to get a ride to chow. So it's not uncommon to walk to and from the chow hall. The same for phones, Internet, shops, the PX -- all of these things are half a mile to a mile away (and in differing directions -- not all in one place). So when you have that kind of space and the primary mode of transport for most folks is LPCs, the pace is a little bit slower.
All things considered, I'm a lot happier at Bernstein than I would be if I were still at Caldwell. There's an awful lot of brass at Caldwell, and proximity to the headquarters unit(s) tends to breed taskings and requirements for the line platoons that, at my level anyway, don't make a lot of sense. I won't get into specifics, but let's just say that at Bernstein, we're able to do our job, and as long as we do that, nobody messes with us. Which is as it should be. It's not perfect, and there are still lots of details (as in, taskings) and things that come up that are frustrating or annoying, but that's just life in the Army. The quantity of such things seems to be greatly reduced at Bernstein, though, versus at Caldwell.
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Steve is an experienced software architect and trainer, focusing on code quality and Domain-Driven Design with .NET.