Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Mistaken Identity

Finally, I've been here about a week now and there is something half way interesting to recount.

I was making my way from the laundry service on the airforce side of our installation. It was early evening. I could start to feel the sleep monster climbing onto my shoulders, preparing to put me down for the night. I was carrying a 6.25 kg parcel of laundry back to my billeting (about a 20 minute waltz) when an air force enlistee came up behind me and said "Looks like your walking heavy tonight!"

"What was that," I replied as I made my way across the gravel strewn walk way. The street lamps cast a yellow and red hue upon the pebbles as this airman moved in closer to respond.

"I said, looks like you're carrying a lot tonight, but it's probably not an issue for you - you are a Marine after all."

I could not believe what I had just heard...me? Mistaken for a Marine? Never! I'm sporting the light foliage green, tan, and dark foliage green of the US Army's ACU (Army Combat Uniform)! How could he confuse the Corps duty uniform for the Army's!

I responded to this egregious error of identification with, "Actually...I'm in the Army...Hooah?"

The befuddled airman took a moment to reply in kind. I could almost feel the "oops!" pop into his cranium as he just entered into one of the largest and longest running inter-branch rivalries to face our nations Department of Defense.

"Oh - sorry about that!" was all he could come up with - I said, "Not to worry, it's probably the new uniforms."

"I didn't know you guys had those yet."

"Well," I replied, "now you do!"

Monday, October 10, 2005

Made it to the starting line

Get Ready, Get Set, Go!

So I've made it to my end point, which is kind of where this blog is supposed to begin. Iraq.

It's a lot like some of the places I've encountered in my civilian job. A lot of civilian contractors running around wiring up the electrical systems (more like cleaning them up - one told me today that a building in my area had zero grounding - so all the wires were 'hot'), building up the compound, feeding people, managing housing, etc.

The air quality is really poor here. I was told that during my clean up, I'd find soot in almost every nook and crany in my shelter. That means a lot of coughing and weezing on my behalf. You can tell who else is new by the hacking and spitting that people do.

I did a little running this morning - just a mile and I performed pretty well for having been away from it for 2.5 months. The air quality really impacted me while running and then again after the run when I was cleaning off.

A soldier here is going to give me a couple of good running routes for this area and I'll be taking a jog with the soldier later on this week to get a good feel for where everything is - the same soldier gave me the down low on educational opportunities here. The Education center is phenominal! They have GRE prep courses for free (it depends on instructor availability - usually a soldier teaches the classes) and the testing is done in Kuwait 2 times a year. So there's no excuse for me not to have taken the exam at least once while I'm here.

As for dining, we have a lot of selections/choices here. KBR is treating us well. I can find soy based rice bowls (with chicken/beef terriyaki), and they even have Kashi cereal bowls for breakfast! (fruits, and beverage options are really spectacular).

So, I lucked out. A lot of people expected the worst situation and many are and will be suprised by what they'll find here. I was very skeptical of the doom and gloom description of the place, based on my experiences overseas in the region but, at the same time I had to maintain a certain mentality that was equally skeptical of my own experiences.

I learned here that my intuition is probably a good thing to fall back on - so I'll need to stop challenging my own expectations.

There's a theater here I'll need to check out - those of you with a good list of shows, I'd like to hear back from you on what's worth seeing - we're about 2 months behind (they're showing Flight Plan and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory here) US theater schedules.

Well, that's about it for now, I'm sure I'll have more to talk about later. I'm fine, I'm well and this hand off for rotation is going to be pretty smooth. My counterpart is a really sharp lady and she's done a great job of getting me introduced to my new network of signal personnel.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

ku wait

I've been in Kuwait for about a week now and it's been a busy one. I've had to run a bunch of machines through a baselining process inorder to ready them for some training.

No sweat right? Well. It's all cool until 15 machines come up missing. I didn't sign for them (owner-reliability type stuff) so supply begins it's quest to hunt them down. After about 4 challenging hours, the supply officer (who is busy getting other business taken care of) asks me to help is troubled team out.

Thus begins my quest to complete my primary mission by doing someone else's primary mission.

I found out that computers weren't accounted for prior to shipment here (well they were but it was pencil whipped) and, long story short, I manage to find some 35 of them by walking obscene distances in the heat out here while, the supply staff basically dumps the job on me.

Lame huh?

Well. Now I've pretty much let those last 2 "go" it's really some one else's job and I'm not quite feeling the team spirit anymore.

I'm also going through the process of making myself less accessible through invisibility. Which means, I tend not to eat with my fellow staff, hang out with them, or basically do a whole lot of anything near them.

They tend to confuse favors for responsibilities and they also tend not to understand what my job really entails.

Less pain for me and my peace in my mind.

I managed to get all the machines through the mill and this afternoon I plan complete my personal check on all the serial numbers and whatnot ensuring what I checked in has successfully made it back to my unit from the IT department.

There was a lot of other drama regarding an access roster. 20 of the 25 machines I've been pushing through are for a training event. Those 20 took priority over the 5 I put in when we first got to the camp and so we've only had 1 computer to work off of in our TOC (tactical operating center).

It was registered under my name and I allowed free use of it to other staff peoples and their subordinates provided they maintain an access roster.

I bought a book of paper and explained to everyone how this was going to work and what would happen to me (I could get in big trouble, b/c of the circumstances, the roster covers my booty). So for 1 day it worked out great. Then people stopped maintaining the roster. Then the roster disappeared. Then I told a corporal on duty to secure the laptop for me, guard it, and tell anyone who asks about the computer why it is no longer useable by staff and who told him to do it.

Suffice it to say, he reveled in this task. I also swipped my plugadapters from the TOC b/c for 4 days supply has failed to resource me with 220 plugadapters for our laptops (we can't plug the laptops into the wall sockets without them).

Let's not forget this isn't much of an issue b/c the installation has more than 40 computers freely accessible in the library (where I am currently) and a computer lab.

I think staff wants this machine for shamming (army term for slacking off) purposes. It makes them look busy, they can contact home, all without having to be around other people and, good Lord forbid, having to wait for access.

In any case, I'll be out of here soon. Gmail is having issues for me here and I'll respond to emails soon.

I'll repost when I get settled in my next locale. Thanks for reading - oh and I finished "Gates of Fire" it was a fun, entertaining, and amazing read. I highly recommend it.