Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Happy Upcoming Summer Solstice!!!

Oh boy, it's almost summer. The high temps are already right around the 120* mark. Hard to believe it'll get even warmer, but it will.

I'm watching the color of the sky as I write this. It's gone from sunny to grey, grey to yellow, and now yellow to orange. That's never a good sign. It means dust, or more likely, a dust STORM. No one likes those. Dust EVERYWHERE, carried by a scorching hot wind. Time to find my goggles.

Today's my day-off, and I needed it. For a fairly easy job there's alot of stress at work. And no, I'm not going to get into it. Just glad to have some time away from the place, even though there really wasn't anything to do today. Pretty much stayed inside where it was cool, and not dusty. Oh, I did sweep my room, and clean out my fridge. At least I accomplished something constructive.

Also planned my flight home. Vacation is still 12 weeks away, but everyone plans early. We need something to look forward to. Flying back to MO cost me a bundle, but thankfully my company gives us a travel credit (which almost covered the entire cost of it) after six months, and again at the end of our contract.

I've been away from home for three months. It's gone by fast, but never fast enough. Listening to the folks that have been here a while, they say the first few months are the longest. Again, thank goodness.

I've always enjoyed the desert life and environment, but this place isn't Arizona. About the only thing they have in common is the heat. I'd always thought that one day I'd like to move back to AZ, but I think being here has cured me of that. Besides, Jan's not that thrilled with the desert anyway. So, we'll go somewhere with trees and water. :)

No real excitement here in Taji lately. There's going to be a group of three comedians at the Pavilion tonight. It'll still be over 100* when they start, but I bet there'll be a good turnout. We kind of latch-on to anything from the outside world. More like grasping at straws.

Anyway, Allan and I are gonna go. Probably eat in the courtyard for a change, too. What shall I have? Burger King, Subway, Popeye's, Taco Bell, or Cin-a-bon? No, definitely NO Cin-a-bon. Oh, there's Pizza Hut, too...but I don't like pizza. We'll find something.

More soldiers seem to be leaving Taji. No idea how many, but it's feeling more sparse around here. It's all part of the Iraq troop drawdown. Should have some Iraqi Army members start to move over to this side soon, too. That'll be different. Just one step closer to turning the base back over to them eventually.

I'm so happy I'm not in Afghanistan, like my friends Joel and Jim. They're in Kabul, thankfully. Yes, it's still very dangerous there, but nothing like the southern part of the country, near Kandahar. Things are just rough there. The surge is beginning...

Yep, I'm pretty spoiled here in Taji. No complaints at all. I'll contend with the heat, the work, and the food (which has been getting rather mundane lately).

BTW, speaking of food - A couple of weeks ago I must have contracted a little intestinal bug. No idea where - could have been the water or the salads. Moot point now. For 11 days I was...well...having to stay close to a restroom. One day I visited the restroom 12 times! Kaopectate helped the most, but not after trying a complete round of Imodium/Loparimide.

This also brought to light a harsh reality of being over here - lack of medical care.

If there's danger to one's life, limb, or eyesight, the Army docs will see you at the clinic. If your condition is something less than life-threatening, they want you to take a day-off from work, board a helicopter, fly down to Baghdad, and visit a contractor clinic down there. Wow, talk about inconvenient. And if you have a problem with gastrointestinal distress, do you really want to take a chance on a bumpy, hot, helo ride, then a bumpy, hot, shuttle drive about half an hour to the clinic?


Thankfully, OTC meds finally helped me. Would have rather had REAL meds, but the option just wasn't there. I'm very appreciative one of my good friends is a medical doc back in the States, and I'm able to ask him about these maladies that darken my doorstep.

The process kinda sucks.

Oh well. Just nine more months to go.

Almost 5p here, and the sky is getting lighter. Maybe the storm passed over us. Take care, all. Leave comments, or write when you can. Miss you all.


All gussied-up in my dust-prevention wear.

I decided that one thing I really do NOT like here is having to use a porta-potty when the temp is anything over 100*. The plastic walls are hot and pliable, ventilation is non-existant, there's that sickeningly-sweet smell of blue liquid/feces that makes you want to hold you breath, and there's the residue of people that 'missed' the target. Better to hold it till you get to a REAL bathroom.

I swear, I don't know how some things work around here...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Well...summer's here.

The temps are now routinely in the 100s. Later this week we should be into the mid-110s. And even though that will be scorching hot, it's gonna get hotter. The hottest temperature recorded in the United States is 134*F, at Death Valley. In Libya, which isn't that far away from Iraq, it once got up to 136*F.

Maybe that's why we don't have pavement here - it'd melt.

Thankfully, the humidity is next to nothing, unlike Phoenix, which has so many swimming pools, canals, and irrigated lawns, that it seems more miserable there.

Well, it's Tuesday, and my DAY-OFF! :) I work six 10-hour days, so I really look forward to this one day.

My typical Tuesday starts off by (usually) sleeping-in. I get up a bit before 8a, and meet my friend Allan for breakfast (he works nights, and gets off at 8a). We talk of base happenings, work, and stories of home, and future plans.

After that, I head back to my room and start cleaning. It's amazing how much dust and dirt gets blown in. Of couse, our doors and windows don't seal all that well, so maybe it's not so surprising.

I also drop-off my laundry - there are no facilities to so it ourselves, so we have to leave it at one of numerous 'drop points' on base. Typically, if you have them in by 12n, it'll be ready by 5p the next day. I can then pick it up on the way home from work.

Tuesday is also a great day for catching-up on e-mails, finances, and whatever else. Since it's so hot outside, might as well stay in where it's cool.

I also just lay around and watch TV. Days off are days to r-e-l-a-x...

Oh there was some excitement at Taji recently...

Yes, it was a testosterone rush for all the Army guys. I caught the last 10 minutes or so. They are good dancers, but it was like being at a football game without the football.

Other than the sporadic USO-style acts that come though here, about the only other thing we have to look forward to is Friday Night Karaoke, and no, I really don't look forward to it.

It's 1p right now. Normally I'd be thinking of lunch, but I'm having some gastrointestinal distress today. I'm so happy Jan included some Imodium in the CARE package I received from her last week. She takes such good care of me. :)

That's it for today. Take care, everyone. Stay cool.

It's nap time...

I forgot what this is - it's either dried mud, or my skin.

One of our laundry drop-offs.

Yes, we have a mosque in Taji. We have a number of Muslims on the base. Thankfully, the loudspeakers don't blare out the daily prayers.

No, I don't know why there's an old, red pickup with flames on it here. Somethings will forever be a mystery...