Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More rain

Well, its raining again. We were almost out of it, with the ground drying up a bit, and I actually walked to work today without having to step through any mud. Oh well, I guess I have another few days of muddy boots and pants to deal with.

I have a lot of respect for the team leader here. He’s a full bird, which means that there is only one person on the entire FOB he doesn’t outrank. So, we’re standing outside waiting for one of our team to get out of the bathroom so we can go to lunch (that’s a whole different story), and literally every person who goes in or out of the TOC salutes him, and he has to break off in the middle of a sentence to return the salute. After a minute he goes, “You know what, I think I’m standing in the wrong place,” and moves out of the front of the building and behind a T-barrier so he won’t have to salute everybody. You gotta love that attitude in an officer. Especially when the same officer has no problems sitting down with a computer toolkit and three printer cartridges for an hour to get the new black cartridge to work so we can actually print stuff again.

Met with the new Psyop guys here, turns out the detachment commander was with the 345th back when I deployed with them in 04. It’s nice to have instant rapport with someone like that.

I cleaned my room last night, and I realized I need some kind of shower rod or dowel to make something to hang my shirts off of. And the internet sucks. A lot. I think I’ve mentioned that before. Apparently you can get a satellite system for $1000, and then like $250 a month service fee. Might be worth it, maybe I’ll ask around and see who else might be interested in it, faster service, hopefully a bit more reliable.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Well, I'm here safe and sound. Much refreshed after two showers, a shave, and some decent food.

I have a room with four walls (cement), and I can walk to the shower wearing shower shoes, which is a wonderful experience. Getting settled in right now, and I saw some whoppers for the title of this blog, I'll try and finagle some pictures to upload of some of the titles (various Trigoly's are available). Some are more subtle, but I'll point out the silliness for those who don't know the shows.

There are still mud puddles galore, here. I spent the morning running errands (getting some cash and buying some necessities for my room), and I already have mud up to my knees on my pants. Oh well. It started drying up by noon or so. Although I did have to wade through an ankle deep puddle of mud to get to work. Joy. Looks like pudding.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

the new laundry bag

So, day 2 I lost my watch cap somewhere. I think I took it off when I was sitting down here at the computer and I forgot it when I walked out. So - I;ve been to three PXs here and none of them have watch caps. Like, WTF? Its winter, did no one at AAFES anticipate a run on cold weather gear??? Maybe we should stock a few more of the watch caps and a few less of the (I kid you not) Childrens Miniature Serving Table... what kind of messed up priorities does the AAFES management have when it fails to order basic necessities for soldiers, but makes certain to get three boxes of kids toys... and not fun kids toys, this is like a little tea set and table for six year olds to play tea party with...? I am constantly perplexed.

Hopefully I'll get out of here tomorrow - scratch that - I will be out of here tomorrow. I don't know where I'll end up going, but I can't handle this place for another 48 hour stay.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Back to the pit

So - weather delay - flight cancelled, and I'm back in that wonderful place we all call Camp Striker. Bleh. Its just as bad. Plus I had to lug my fifty pounds of crap to the bus, load it up, drive over to the airport, wait for two hours, and then lug it all back. Joy.

Smell - I always thought the stables smell was the actual horse manure, but it would seem (based on the smell here) that its just the smell of churned up muddy crap. The whole base smells like a stable. One of the many smells to add to the Army experience.

Nothing much to add, except that Green Beans chai is the best I've ever had... too bad they don't have it in the States.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Worst Place on Earth

Okay, well, probably not. I'm sure there are some seriously bad places just in Iraq, let alone the rest of the world.

So I arrived in theater on Sunday night, and sat in the freezing cold for about an hour waiting for the shuttle bus. I must have missed the one by like two minutes, or else it had simply not showed up that hour. Luckily some very nice Armenians took pity on me and gave me a ride over to Camp Stryker. Say what you want about third-world countries, at least people there have manners. There were like five other groups of people just standing around in the cold, getting rides, and then driving off. The truck smelled seriously of BO though. Of course, after thirty six hours without a shower, one starts to wonder "is that me?"

But Camp Stryker SUCKS. The showers are disgusting, not even a bench or a hook to hang your clothes, the food is tolerable (I give marks there), and it is in the middle of nowhere - forty five minute bus ride to get to Liberty. Its like living in... Finksburg or something. Bleh. And no flush toilets anywhere, unless you're lucky (and high rank) enough to get a wet trailer. I remember last time, the highlight of my trip was finding the flush toilets hiding behind the T-barriers. Yeah, not here - I looked. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, but this is nasty.

I am currently sleeping on a cot in a tent with somewhere between three and thorty other people, depending on the time of day. Last night about ten people just sort of blundered in looking for cots around 2:00 in the morning. And they weren't... quiet, either. Its hard enough sleeping on a cot, try it with ten loud, boot wearing flashlight carrying men stumbling around. Oh yeah, and I'm pretty sure this morning the people in the tent next to me were listening to an Idi Amin speech on their CD player, at fully appropriate volume.

And it rained, oh joy. I used to say I wanted to see the rainy season here... I think I was wrong. They should call this place "the land of a million disgusting muddy puddles for one month out of the year". Like, seriously, I had to detour my route around like three lake-sized puddles just to get to the MWR building (the only source of internet access). I'll have pictures later, once I get to my final destination and have better internet and I can use my computer.

Monday, January 21, 2008


So - certain members of the MILAIR support staff were totally cool - especially the Sergeant Major who arranged for my stuff to be held at the back edge of the baggage truck, so that if, just if, my company pulled their *&^$% out of the (*^#$, I could grab my stuff, jump on a commercial flight and get out of that hellhole. Alas, that was not to happen.

So - my MILAIR experience began at 12:00 in the afternoon on Friday. It went until 1230 on Monday morning.

Friday - load bags and stand in formation to be told the flight was delayed. Okay, fine, report back Saturday.

Saturday - in the midst of a wonderful downpour, we report three times, each time getting told to come back later. Finally, about 2:00, they tell us we are being bussed to Atlanta. 3:00, we get on the busses. 5:00 we arrive at a big, empty, cargo terminal and pull up a piece of tile floor to wait. And wait. And wait. We lay out our carryons, get everything searched, and then wait. And wait. And they tell us "no smoking, sorry" Joy. So, about 7:00 we get on the plane, and get yelled at by some E-7 who is getting frustrated that the flight crew is apparently telling people where to sit (that's her job, and what is the flight crew doing interfering with the whole boarding of the plane thing?) Its kind of amusing, actually. So then we sit, and wait. Then the captain comes on and tells us that we are going to have to wait SIX hours for the de-icing. So we all file off the plane, and they take pity on the smokers. Mad rush out the door. A hundred people standing shivering in the coldest day in the HISTORY of GEORGIA (who knows...), puffing madly away. We come back in, someone orders us pizza. Then, we wait. Some people sleep on the empty tile floor. Mostly soldiers, who are a little more used to this stuff. You ever slept on a tile floor? It sucks. You can't shift to get comfortable, the tole steals your body heat, my back STILL hurts.

Sunday - 5:00 we get up (notice, it has been EIGHT hours since they said six hours). Someone has McDOnald's breakfast delivered. Its gross. We get on the plane, we take off. Eight hours of flight time (I think, I slept through most of it). We land to refuel at Leipzig. Another mad rush of smokers. And let me tell you about Leipzig - I have never seen as much pornography and Rammstein on display in my life. I wanted to get a mousepad, but I think that might violate GO #1...

Monday - finally get to Kuwait. Three hours of random briefings later, I have a bunk, and I pull out my poncho liner to discover that my duffel bag had apparently been sitting in a puddle for the last ten hours. Joy. Thankfully, its dry here in Kuwait, and most of the stuff (pillow, pillowcase, woobie, etc) dries out while I catch a blessed 4 hours of sleep on a real mattress. After my nap, I load up onto my flight to Baghdad - a C-17 this time. I highly recommend it. It smells a hell of a lot nicer than a C-130, and you don't have the weird facing backward thing of the C-5. One hour flight to Baghdad, land, walk out. Its COLD - especially at 1200 in the morning.

More later

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Well - it wasn't as bad as it might have been. They seem to have learned from their mistakes. I was pretty much done every evening by 1700, with the exception of "class day" when you learn (surprise surprise!) how to evaluate a casualty and perform first aid. I think I have performed this "common task" like 500 times in my Army career. Bleh.

Rooms were okay, there were four to a room and we each had our own locker. On my first day, I figured what the hell, and went ahead and made up my bunk IG standard, complete with hospital corners and everything. Figured maybe I would freak out my bunkmate a bit. Yeah - didn't work. I get back that evening, and he's made his the same - and more to the point, even though I think I saw the man like five times over the course of the week, his bed was always made IG standard, whereas mine, as anyone who has ever seen my beds (or rooms, or living areas, or frankly, anything of mine) realize that my bed got messed up very quickly. Oh well.

Nothing much to really report here - except that you DON'T have to fly out of CRC on the milair flight. I repeat - you DO NOT have to do this. I thought that that was just how it went - CRC -> Kuwait, no stops no breaks, do not collect $100. Well, needless to say it was a disappointment to find out that this was not true. Oh well, live and learn.

So our flight got delayed, three times, and the best part was that on Saturday I think I went back to my room and used the dryers there like three times to dry out my shoes and socks cause it was POURING! all day on Saturday. Puddles up to your ankles if you weren't watching where you were going. Bleck.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Contract Two

Well, I'm here in Kansas - its a very interesting place. First of all, its very depressing that Kansas City, MO has a better alternative station than Washington, DC. Like, seriously - a population of about one tenth of Washington DC, and in the middle of the frickin midwest, and it has an actual, honest to god, GOOD alternative station. You turn on the radio, and they're playing Toadies (that's NOT possum kingdom) Cure, Modest Mouse, and even some stuff I've never heard before! Whassup with that?

Army bureaucracy is just silly. Especially when combined with corporation bureaucracy - you get the worst of both worlds. Bleh. Not much more to say there.

Don't stay at the Howard Johnson near the airport. The employees are the nicest people in the world, and I REALLY want to recommend the hotel, but the hotel itself was a dump. Like, cigarette butts in the hallway kind of dump. At one point, I was the only person on the entire second floor. I think they had five people staying there. The pool was closed, apparently has been for six months or so, there was a distinct lack of hot water, and I worried about sleeping in the bed. I had scabies once, I really don't want to get it again.

I actually moved to the Sheraton on my own dime just so I could get a good night's sleep and a good shower in the morning. Felt much better. Too bad their pool was closed, too. But Country Club Plaza is very pretty, they have all the christmas lights and stuff out all year round, a bunch of decent shops, stuff like that. Had Irish stew (still don't like it) at a little Irish pub. My favorite moment there was when I asked the bartender if there was a smoking section, and she goes "the whole place is smoking!" Awesome.

Small planes suck. But if you have a choice, go for the ones that are so small they have four seats across instead of five. You get five across, that "three" side is really aggravating. Its like all the hassle of a cross-country flight without any of the benefits.

Going to CRC next week - that will be interesting, I'll deal with it next time.