Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Yes, I'm enjoying my time at home!
I've been periodically updating the Blogroll with links to other sandbox sailor blogs... be sure to keep reading them!
The March issue of the Navy League's Sea Power magazine features JCCS-1 as its Cover Story. Read it!
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
It's been a long few days of traveling, but I have finally arrived home. The excitement, smiles, and hugs have been wonderful as I've enjoyed the day with my family. But crossing eleven time zones in two days without more than a few hours of sleep has left me exhausted. I'll be crashing early tonight, and spend the next few days getting reacquainted with a normal life.
I have enjoyed keeping this journal as a record of my experiences over the past year. Marking time with a daily post was an excellent stress-reducing routine, and looking for interesting things to share helped pass time in an otherwise dull and monotonous place. I have had many more interesting stories than I could share publicly, I have made good friends and look back on this last year as one of the most rewarding times in my life.
As I am no longer in the "desert", I feel this is an appropriate time to bring this blog to a close. It will remain available, of course, as long as the information in it is relevant to future Individual Augmentees, but this will be my final post as I slip beneath the waves. I encourage you to continue reading the other fine sandbox sailor blogs listed in the blogroll to the right, especially The One Wire, My Desert Adventure, Sandboxrich, the Segredo Family Blog, The Adventures of Professor Lieutenant Soule, The Landlocked Sailor, Mission Iraq - Round 2, and Air Force EWO in Iraq members of the group replacing mine. I'm sure they'll appreciate having an audience and hearing any comments you have about their experiences.
Fair winds and following seas! Dive! Dive!
Friday, February 09, 2007
I've always liked the word "penultimate". For the uninitiated, it means second-to-last, and this will be my second-to-last post to the Desert Periscope blog; the last one from overseas. Expect silence for about three days and a final post once I'm safely home.
This morning we had a few meetings and we're all done except for a very long process of getting up early, taking a long bus ride, checking through customs, waiting a very long time (overnight in an air terminal), riding a very long flight, and finally arriving at Baltimore sometime Sunday evening. Due to my bad luck with my e-ticket, I'll end up in "Amazing Race" mode visiting the ticket counter and trying to find the first flight home (or anywhere nearby) and if I have enough time, getting a hotel room for a quick catnap before an early Monday flight. No doubt I'll be exhausted, but happy to be home when it's all over.
Most of the idle speculation among us is how long it will take before we're sent back here. Most of the younger officers see their return as inevitable. I am fortunate enough to be close to my retirement, and I'm sure the timing will work in my favor to prevent a return. It's not bad duty, really, except for the long separation from the family. That is something I really don't want to do again.
Off to finish packing and fly home!
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Today was the first official day of our four-day checkout process. My boredom from the past two days (a result of early arrival to guarantee being here on time) was rewarded with a few hours of actual activity! Only a few hours, but boy were they productive.
In the morning, we turned in two full duffle bags worth of equipment that the Army had issued us (and turned in the duffle bags, too!) It was nice saying good bye to heavy armor, unnecessary mosquito netting, a trenching tool, and a lot of other things I never used. I did somehow manage not to lose anything in all that time.
In the afternoon, we were able to finally turn in our weapons. My arrangements with my Army officemates to help me clean paid off, as I didn't have to do any cleaning and was complimented for having a weapon so clean "It should be an example for everyone on how to have a clean weapon." I did fess up that I'd had some help, mainly because everyone else who was having to re-clean theirs was asking me how I did it. The best part about that turn-in is that I don't have to carry those heavy items around all the time or worry about having someone watch them. It's truly a liberating feeling.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
I wish I could have something more interesting to report, but today has been another day of doing nothing but sitting around and waiting. With a scheduled flight home, there's nothing I can do to move up the process, and only a limited amount of things to do until then to pass the time.
I have unpacked and repacked a few times, experimenting with ways of doing it more efficiently, and deciding it really doesn't matter. I have more stuff than will fit in one bag, and not enough to fill two. At least I have some flexibility in how to arrange things.
Tomorrow we'll get to turn in most of the Army-issued equipment, including our weapons. That will be a relief -- at present we have to either carry our weapons around everywhere or make sure we have someone guarding them. So even our time off isn't totally "off" since we're trying to take our turns playing lookout.
I'm still working on shifting my flight up 10 hours, but haven't heard any results yet. My wife had the great suggestion of an alternate airport with more flight options, and I may do that! After waiting this long to get home, there's no way I'm going to wait around all day at an airport stateside!
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Well, it's been a lovely, and boring, day in Kuwait. I've accomplished exactly two things, each of which took five minutes, and spent most of the rest of the time sitting around. First was a post-deployment health screening, where I got to officially complain about breathing the fumes from the burning trash pit at Balad. Duly noted. And second was locating my e-ticket itinerary for my flight home.
And that's where I got really annoyed. My flight into BWI from Kuwait arrives late enough that I can't get another flight home until the next day. Not a big problem; I was expecting that. But worse than that, they booked me on a flight that doesn't leave BWI until that evening! I'd spend almost 20 hours sitting around in Baltimore wishing I was home, and not arrive until late in the evening. And the most frustrating part is that another member of the same unit, returning to the same airport as I am, is booked on a nice early morning flight that gets in at noon! Waah!
I have, of course, put in a request to change my ticket but I'm not holding my breath. They may have had only one seat on the earlier flight, and by the luck of the draw (or perhaps alphabetical order) it went to the other person and costs me 10 hours with my family. Kind of goes with the theme of this deployment. One last little kick on my way home.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Woohoo! The first leg of the homeward journey is complete. Well, the first three legs if you count all the take-offs and landings today. But as the sun sets I find myself in Kuwait, after having bid goodbye to Iraq for the last time.
One of the local "slang" terms in the military for Iraq is "the sandbox". Even though there's plenty of sand here, it isn't "in the box" and is, therefore, a bit more relaxed.
Coincidentally, our aircraft stopped briefly at Baghdad on its way here, and the last time my feet were on Iraqi soil (concrete, actually) were very close to the first place that I set foot in the country over nine months ago. Back then I had no idea what I was getting in to. It was quite a different feeling having all the experiences behind me as I headed the other direction.
Now that I really have no possible way of checking my work email or helping my replacement out, it's safe to get my mind off the war and back toward getting home. I won't have much to do for the next two days other than watch TV, read, eat, sleep, and repeat. Well, that and 8 days' worth of laundry.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
If all goes according to plan, this should be my last post from Iraq. Although I tried to sneak out today, first on a scheduled flight, and later by Space-A, things didn't work out. For having the entire day "off" I sure don't feel like I rested. In order to try to go Space-A, I had to wake up at 4am just to sign up for a flight. When I did finally wake up, and headed off to shower, I returned to find my room locked (with my key inside) and my roommate/replacement off on a 5-mile run. Various attempts to get a backup key failed until he returned. By the time I finished packing and had lunch, it was time to go up to the terminal to try to catch a flight. By the time I got back from that failed attempt, it was dinner time. Only now, in the evening, do I have some time to kick back. Well, at least I'm not complaining about being bored in Kuwait!
Several readers have been leaving comments recently on how much they've enjoyed reading over the last year. Thank you all for the kind words. It has been a fun part of my routine and a great way of helping the time go by. I do hope you've found some other great blogs, including some of the newly arrived folks, that you'll enjoy reading. As for the Desert Periscope, I expect to end this particular journal when I return home. I'm still deciding whether to start another blog (and on what subject) or fade back into the void of cyberspace. Suggestions are welcome!
As a final note, during my 4 years at the Naval Academy, I had a tradition of playing Simon and Garfunkel's song "Homeward Bound" the day before I returned for leave. It's appropriate now as I begin my journey back to home and family, and I've got the mp3 playing as I conclude this post.
I wish I was
Home, where my thoughts escaping
Home, where my musics playing
Home, where my love lies waiting
Silently for me"
Saturday, February 03, 2007
You know you’re getting really short when people start saying their goodbyes “in case I don’t see you again”. And in fact, I am down to one final (long) meeting before all my duties here are done. Again, the farewell is bittersweet. I’m reluctant to leave an assignment with such great job satisfaction, but boy am I excited to be going home to my family again.
I’m working through all the various checklists of things I need to do, to make my transfer smooth and keep me busy, and am organizing my things into four groups: turn in to the Army, mail home, carry home, and abandon in place. So far I’ve got part 1 packed, and need to get working on the others.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
Sunday, January 28, 2007
- The U.S. Military can be expected to succeed at any particular task assigned to it. Specifically, the 20,000 extra troops sent to secure areas of Baghdad can be expected to complete that mission successfully. Personally, however, I don't know what that will get us. Will it buy us time to proceed with more reconstruction? Create jobs? Make life better for the moment? Yes. But that improvement will only last as long as we stay, and I don't foresee our country collectively having the stomach to stick it out as long as it takes. And any gains we make will be undone when we leave unless the Iraqi government steps up.
- In light of the above point, it is good to note that this is not a military war. It is a political one. Iraq, and the insurgents, have very little organized military power. Unfortunately, the media and anti-war politicians are helping the insurgents get their message out by wavering in their support and encouraging opposing forces to continue attacking. In particular, the current move in Congress to pass resolutions opposing the President are a horribly bad idea.
- The Government of Iraq is more disfunctional than the U.S. Congress. And they aren't getting any better, and won't, until they are in extremis. The surge will do nothing to put more pressure on the Iraqi government.
- General Petraeus, who was just confirmed as the top General here, is the Army's counter insurgency expert. If anybody knows how to succeed here, he does. He should be given a chance to implement his doctrine. I think we'll know by mid-Summer whether we're having any success.
- The Iraqi Army is slowly growing and slowly getting better. You can't build an army overnight. You can't rush the process. Yes, there are deep problems with it, but the media highlights the few exceptions to the generally good news coming out of the transition teams.
- The Iraqi culture is utterly different than our own. If it turns out that this policy fails, it is not a failure of the US, but rather a choice of the Iraqis: in particular, their government. If they choose to perpetuate their culture of violence and sectarian divisions, there's not much we can do to help them, and we need to back away and let them figure it out for themselves.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
Every time the phone rings these days and I hear that it’s a call from my boss, or our unit’s headquarters, I’m always paranoid that it will be someone informing me that something happened to my relief, and that I should plan on hanging around another month. I’m not sure if that’s pessimism or cynicism, or really what the difference is between the two. I guess I’ve just gotten used to surprising news regarding this deployment and I’m still trying not to celebrate too much until everything is really certain.
Fortunately for me, the contact from headquarters today was from my relief! Lots of simple questions that I was more than happy to answer, but more importantly, evidence that I’m still on track to make my way homeward. It’s hard to stop me from smiling these days. Other than that highlight, I kept busy doing important things, with a small cleaning break, but I’m still procrastinating the major cleaning until this weekend. Literally the last minute, as I’m hoping my relief will show up on Monday.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
I mentioned in a previous post that the menu at the DFAC rotates on a 20-day cycle. I realized today that I have less than 20 days left of eating Army food! That brings a whole new meaning to experiencing the same meals I’ve had for nearly 300 days previous. I can look at that glob of noodles and tomato sauce I had for lunch that they claim is lasagna, and savor it as the last time I’ll have to eat it! Or at dinner, hope that this is the last T-bone steak that I will attempt (unsuccessfully) to cut with a plastic knife. Mmm. I’m already coming up with the list of restaurants I want to visit after returning to the real world.
I’ve continued to procrastinate preparing for my relief’s arrival, but time is running short, so I really should get focused on that soon. With luck, I’ll also be able to sell him the TV and some other comfort Items I’ve picked up to make my stay here more comfortable. And he won’t make me reassemble the bunk bed I took apart. There are some advantages to turning a room directly over to someone instead of having to vacate it and get it inspected.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
It's interesting how much politics is in the news these days, a few weeks after the new Congress has convened and years before the next Presidential election. I've lost track of the number of candidates who have declared that they have formed exploratory committees. Actually, I saw a brief segment on a news show which told how to get the form declaring such to the Federal Election Commission. It's free (the news show said it cost a 39 cent stamp, but mail's free from over here!) I'm debating sending the form in so that I can run for President. I wonder how many votes I could get...
The other Presidential thing in the news is tomorrow's State of the Union address. It'll be 5 in the morning here when it's broadcast, so I don't think I'll watch it live, but I feel a constitutional duty to catch one of the many replays tomorrow. Supposedly he's going to talk mostly about domestic policies rather than the war. And given my relocation in only a couple weeks' time, I'm in the mood to think domestically as well.
Time always seems to go faster when deadlines are approaching, and this week is no exception. I have among the best deadlines possible... getting work done to get ready to go home! And, of course, I'm running out of time to do it. I'm working later than I have in a while (on an unrelated upsurge in things to do) and the need to start packing and cleaning and moving things is barreling down unmercifully.
At least I don't have TV to distract me. The AFN signal has been out at my trailer for the last two days. I'm not sure who I need to contact to fix it. But I better get it back up in time for this week's American Idol episodes!
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Today was a relaxing day, although I spent most of the evening tutoring one of the soldiers in my office in his Algebra course. Remember "completing the square"? Or the quadratic formula? I had to bang it into his head, but I think he finally got it.
I've been helping him out for several weeks, now, and he was asking the other day about getting me a gift certificate or something as way of thanks. I insisted he not spend any money, as it was my job to teach, but today I figured out a great way for him to pay me back. Turns out as my fellow sailors are checking out in Kuwait, they're running into problems turning their weapons in clean enough. And since the only thing most of us know about cleaning an M-16 was learned almost a year ago and we've had little practice since, they're getting them rejected. So I told the soldier to help me clean my weapons when I get ready to go home, and we'd call it even. It's a good trade of expert skills to help each other.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
I decided to spend a little quality time with Google and uncovered another blogger with JCCS-1. Like a significant number of our officers, he appears to be a pilot with a call sign of "Stimp." And according to his blog, My Desert Adventure, he likes to run a lot. At least he gets a lot of interesting blog entries from his (daily?) jaunts. Probably a lot more interesting than my updates on what TurboTax is telling me today.
Speaking of TurboTax, I realized today that my 5-year-old son has to file a tax return since his college fund yielded some nice (reinvested) dividends. At first I was annoyed at having to pay additional tax, but after crunching the numbers, it appears that since most of the amount was capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate, including his income actually ended up saving us money! Go figure.
Anyway, I've added Stimp and Barbie's blogs to my blogroll link on the right! Go visit them and tell them how much you appreciate them being here. And know that I appreciate them (and all the incoming group) much more than any of you! Hah!
Friday, January 19, 2007
I spent a bit more time today finishing up my taxes, and had a frustrating realization. Apparently before I accounted for my pitiful amount of bank interest, I was in a lower category. But thanks to rounding in the tax tables, adding in $6.11 of interest from my checking account resulted in an additional $5 of tax. As if that 2% wasn't already pathetically small, the government gets most of it! Oh, well.
I was pleasantly surprised by a few tax credits I didn't know I would be getting. Apparently, thanks to the fact that only 3 months of my annual salary were taxed, I qualified to get a credit for a portion of my IRA contributions. And also, I'm apparently being refunded some amount from the phone company billing excise taxes or something for the past three years. More money! I better enjoy it while it lasts, since the new Congress plans on raising taxes on the rich, and I'm probably one of a large group of people that never knew they were rich until Congress told them.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
As I've started work through the administrative checklists for heading homeward, I've realized one of the first things I need to do is make some room for a roommate. While most people over here have to share their third of a trailer with someone, I've been fortunate enough to be ranked high enough to get my own room, which I'll hand over to my replacement. We'll have to share it for a week or so during the turnover process, but that's a much better situation than the Army units who routinely move out of their quarters into tents for their turnover period. (Their philosophy is that they'll sleep on the ground if they're on their way home, and I would agree it's a great philosophy.)
In order to keep the side of the room I tend to stay on uncluttered, I've used the other side as a storage area. I'm debating whether to try to clear off the other side completely for my relief, or do the easier task of just moving out of the uncluttered side and moving myself. Or perhaps I could plan ahead and actually pack up a lot of my stuff over the next week instead of waiting until the last minute. What, me procrastinate?
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Today was one of the more exciting days of my time here, as I finally got a name associated with a relief! That makes my imminent return home all the more probable. Like a well trained sailor, of course, I'm bracing myself for the (some would say inevitable) news that they've changed their mind. What's worse, if something happens now it won't just be a generic "we didn't have anyone" decision, but it would be getting personal. I'm remaining hopeful, of course, but they keep telling me not to truly celebrate until I'm shaking hands with my replacement so I'll keep my celebration muted. (And update my counter with a more accurate return date.)
Speaking of new people coming over, another member of JCCS-1 has joined the blogging crowd. The author of The One Wire is an F/A-18 pilot, cut from the same tough-guy mold as your favorite characters in Top Gun. Except his call sign isn't nearly as cool as "Maverick" or "Ice Man." He's... get this... "Barbie." I suppose he must have a sense of humor to admit it. Be sure to check out his blog and add it to your daily reads! His counter was at 2 when I stopped by this morning, so he needs an audience!
One good thing about technology is that many things have moved online. That includes not only filing taxes, but getting tax statements. I’ve spent a little time over the last week collecting electronic copies of everything I need to file my taxes, which I do with TurboTax. I’ve got just about everything I need, with one exception. My bank, with the few pennies I’ve earned in interest, won’t give me the tax data until they put out the monthly statement next week. It’s mildly annoying especially when I’m expecting a rather large refund (I only have 3 months of income for tax purposes, thanks to the Combat Zone entitlement.)
Hopefully I’ll be able to get the taxes filed in a week or so, so that my refund arrives about the same time I get home. And I’ll promptly use it to buy a car since my wife saw fit to sell mine when I left.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Not much of interest happened today. While it’s a federal holiday back in the states, it was a workday just like any other Monday in Iraq. I wonder, when I get home, if I can claim comp time for all the holidays that I worked…
I did have the opportunity on for totally separate and unrelated issues today to chat (either by phone or email) with some old friends… old being a relative term. I’ll say people I served with in Balad. It was nice talking about the “good old days” when we had our whole tour in front of us and the excitement of all the things we were going to do to change the world. As we draw closer to the end we’re all working on making sure the people replacing us will have a solid foundation to stand on, but looking ahead is mostly looking homeward.
Monday, January 15, 2007
The words in the subject line normally apply to stretching and twisting in preparation for PT, but they’re generally applicable to a lot of folks around here. On the “extend” portion, some of the guys on base, who were getting ready to go home in a month or two, just found out they got extended as part of the President’s “surge” plan. Amazingly, they seem to be taking it rather well. Part of it is because they are National Guard troops and will pick up an extra $1000/month bonus for the extension.
While they got the bad news, there are a lot of other people rotating out, and they are obviously happy to be going home. I’m happy for them, of course, and looking forward to being in exactly that position in not very much more time.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
I’ve mentioned in previous posts about how the rain turns the plentiful sand around here into sticky mud. One big problem of all that mud is that the vehicles track it everywhere and it splatters the sides of vehicles. Our unit’s bus, for example, that we ride to and from the dining facility, is so caked with mud that you can’t even see out the windows. It really looks like a nice smooth coat of tan-colored spray paint all over the outside. The front window is kept clean, of course, but the rest of the bus is rather dark.
I’ve seen people driving their Gators (golf-cart like things) with obscured windshields, sticking their heads out the side like dogs to see where they are going. Amusing, if not completely safe. Fortunately for me, I walk pretty much everywhere I go (except for the bus ride to chow) so I don’t have to deal with it.
Despite the few days of rain we’ve had, we’re still well below average for the season. Perhaps it’s global warming?
Saturday, January 13, 2007
I had been remarking to someone at lunch today how Monday would be Payday. Not that I’m waiting on more money to spend, it’s just one more way of marking time. I realized later that we actually got paid today (Friday) since Monday is a federal holiday. Not that we’ll get the day off or anything, of course. It will be just another Monday for us.
Speaking of marking time with paydays, this was a really good one! If all works according to plan, this should be my last payday in Iraq! The bad news is, the difference in my paycheck from the last one of 2006 is paltry. I never realized just how low that 2.2% pay raise was until I see the numbers coming in much as they were before. Oh, well. At least when I get home and start having taxes withheld again, I’ll have another exemption which should improve things.
Friday, January 12, 2007
When I first arrived at Al Asad, my only internet options were at my desk at work, with a highly restrictive firewall, or a long hike to wait in line at the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) building. Within a few weeks I managed to find a guy with a satellite dish and have enjoyed (at some expense, but worth it) a connection in my room since then.
This week, two new internet options became available. Another in-room option, with the same price but more restrictive bandwidth limits, officially sponsored by the base. And our unit just installed our own local MWR trailer a short walk from where I live, complete with phones and less restricted computers, for free! And much shorter lines, of course, than the big building. It's interesting how technology is spreading. It definitely makes keeping in touch with home easy. Too bad it's a bit too late for me to take full advantage of. But I'm not complaining, really.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Well, my birthday came and went without much fanfare. Just a day like any other. My wife has promised me a real celebration when I'm home, so I'm looking forward to that. I did get some lovely cards from Mom as well, and lots of email. I felt loved.
Speaking of mail, I don't think anyone's sending anything else. And that's good. Because it's starting to get close enough to my departure that anything you mail might not get here in time. Or it'll get here just in time for me to have to pack it up and bring it home with me. Now that's a nice thought.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
A common answer around here when people start worrying about some project that’s behind schedule, or some report that is filed late, is, “What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? They’ll send you to Iraq and take away your birthday?”
It’s just after midnight tonight, and I get to celebrate my birthday in this lovely location. Not just any birthday: I’m turning the big four-oh. Forty. Over the hill. The most immediate benefit for me will be an added 30 seconds of run time on my next physical fitness test! But for now, I’ll have to take the good wishes sent by email and the promises of a belated party when I return home. Which really won’t be much longer, now!
Monday, January 08, 2007
A rainstorm blew in last night, hard enough to cause a little bit of leakage under my door and through cracks in my window. It was still raining in the morning, although not as hard as it had all night. This is the first storm we’ve had this year that didn’t blow through in an hour. Most of the rest of the day was overcast, dark, wet, and glum.
The worst part about rain here isn’t getting wet. It’s the sand… which is now acres and acres of sticky mud. The fine, talcum-powder consistency turns into a really sticky covering over very hard clay, and the ground doesn’t absorb the water after the first bit, so there are puddles everywhere. The only good thing about the mud that gets all over everything is that it eventually dries out and easily flakes off and breaks up into its powder-like consistency again. Fascinating, really.
Sunday, January 07, 2007
In yet another installment of “how fast can time go?” I’ll note that I’m surprised that we’re already a week into the new year. I’m nervously anticipating definitive news one way or the other on my potential return home. The guys “in front of me” in line are starting their own process of heading homeward, and at this point it’s just keeping my fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong in the next couple of weeks.
Of all the things to be concerned about, of course, I guess worrying about being extended isn’t on the chart with some of the other things many people deal with out here. I especially feel for the troops who may or may not be participating in this surge that the President may or may not order. Whatever path lies ahead in Iraq, I hope it leads toward accomplishment of the mission.
Finally, my cousin informs me I’m still in it in another Bowl Game football pool I joined with him… it all hinges on the championship game. Go Buckeyes!
Saturday, January 06, 2007
As the College Bowl Season draws to a close, I'm surprised how long I lasted in the pool I referred to in an earlier post, Bowl Game Game. Tonight's victory by Cincinnati knocks me out of the running. It was fun while it lasted!
Actually, I had put together a spreadsheet and listed several factors helping me decide who to pick (geek that I am) and one of the factors was the ranking in the AP Poll. Unfortunately, I made a small mistake when entering the rank for #3 Michigan, and put it in the column for Western Michigan, the underdog in today's International Bowl. Otherwise I would have picked the winner! Drat! Of course, on the bright side, if I had correctly ranked the real Michigan, I would have lost the Rose Bowl pick instead of accidentally winning with USC.
The other big bowl game on today was the Army's All American bowl. Looked like a big recruiting ad! Still, it was fun to watch.
I'm disappointed the Denver Broncos aren't in the postseason, but fortunately my 2nd choice team, the San Diego Chargers, are poised to go all the way to the Super Bowl. They have a bye this week, but it's never to early to say Go Bolts!
Friday, January 05, 2007
Leave it to me to comment a few days ago about sunny weather. I woke up this morning to cool rain, which morphed over the course of the day to a cold, biting wind in the late afternoon. Very chilly. Still nothing near those Colorado blizzards, but glad I have the comfort of my trailer and a working heater.
Big news back home as my son got his first pair of glasses. Turns out he’s quite a bit farsighted, and finally the squinting and letter confusion prompted a vision test. Amazing that they have the technology to figure out how the lens is shaped.
Work is the usual pre-weekend crunch, and I’m looking forward to a small break.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
I've been musing for a while trying to come up with an appropriate submarine-related term about ultrasounds. A periscope in the womb, perhaps? Or maybe "returned ping, target acquired!" Whatever the analogy, I marvel at the technology that allows us to peek at a child only six weeks after conception.
There he or she is, the latest submariner in my family. Already swimming around surrounded by water, getting used to the environment. And not scheduled to "surface" until August!
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
The days march on, and the last couple have been relatively warm. I’m wondering if the really cold weather of the last two weeks was just a taste of winter, or all of it if this warming trend continues. I guess the coming month will determine that theory one way or the other.
Work is the usual. A few long meetings. A few little brush fires to put out. A lot more administrative paperwork (electronic paperwork, if there’s such a thing) to do. But moving on day to day. I’m trying not to count the days too many times each day, but it seems to be something I do everytime I walk back to my trailer from work and knock another day off the list. At least the sunshine matches my improving mood.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
One of my colleagues was remarking to me at lunch today how much more efficiently we’re doing business now than several months ago. It’s true that we’ve figured out a lot more about our jobs and made things run a bit more smoothly. In some cases, that gives us some more time off. In other cases, it gives us the ability to do more work. I tend to try to prefer the former when I can, but I don’t complain when I get something to fill my time.
One thing that does help time go by is maintaining a routine. That’s a good thing when you have a lot of time in front of you, but as I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I still haven’t started altering my routine and doing anything to prepare to leave. I’d like to think it’s because I like keeping my routine, but more accurately I’m just a procrastinator. Something tells me that once the time arrives to start packing my bags, I won’t have any trouble getting it all done in very short order.
Monday, January 01, 2007
The new year has arrived, not so much with a bang as with a whimper. Other than the occasional “Happy New Year” comments exchanged here and there, it was much like any other day here.
While it’s the first day of a new year, it’s also a time that I can start counting lasts. Like the easy one: 2007 is the last year that I’ll be in Iraq. With a bit more caution, I can hope that January is the last full month I’ll spend here. And as I admire the moon getting bigger every night, I’m looking forward to seeing it full on Wednesday and counting it as my last full moon in Iraq. Indeed, I am starting to get excited about counting down the days. I’m trying to temper that with the knowledge that my return date is “subject to change without notice.” Everyone keep your fingers crossed!