Saturday, May 20, 2006

Back in the Sand

Well, I’m finally back here in Iraq. Our government computers don’t allow me to access my blog page because it uses too much bandwidth they said. For the same reason, I can’t check my personal e-mail accounts while I’m deployed here. As a result of this, I am e-mailing my blog entries to my wife, Joy, who is posting them on the site for me. Thank you, dear.

Well, its hot over here in Kirkuk, but it’s a lot hotter in Kuwait and Qatar. I had to stop at both those places on my way here. I’ve been here for just over a week now, and I’m getting settled in nicely. As a matter of OPSEC (operational security), I will not be going into detail about some things, like how many people are here, living quarters arrangements, security procedures or anything else of a sensitive nature. We don’t want the enemies of America and freedom planning attacks or what not based on information I reveal on this site.

Anyway, I’ve been assigned to the operation and maintenance of the waste water treatment plant. It’s a big headache really. I was here a little over two years ago and instead of improving, this plant has gotten several stages worse. There are several problems preventing the plant from running as efficiently as it should be. One of the problems is in the process of being remedied by myself now, another of the problems is awaiting parts and equipment before it is remedied. Part of my job is to address the rest of the problems and get this plant back to running properly.

Life here isn’t too bad though all in all. We have contractors here that do most of the daily base maintenance now days. There are Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Burger King, and a Green Bean Coffee restaurants on base working out of little trailer facilities, and we have a contractor run chow hall that serves up some pretty good food. We get our food free at the chow hall, but the other places charge. The prices are kind of steep, but it’s well worth it for the luxury of having another small piece of home here with us.

Being gone from home like this always reminds you about the little things in life that you take for granted. Things like having your steaks cooked medium-rare, just the way you like it, or relaxing on your weekend because you get weekends off from work, or being able to walk 100 feet from your office in any direction without having to put on a Kevlar helmet and flak vest to help you survive any incoming small arms fire or a rocket/mortar attack, or, probably the little thing I miss the most, is being able to wear blue jeans and a T-shirt when walking around the house. We have to be in uniform any time we leave our bedroom, it really sucks.

Well, we’re working 11 hours a day, minimum, 7 days a week. Our commander kept telling us before we left that we’d only have to work 6 days a week, but it seems he’s changed his mind. We are allowed to take time of one day a week for religious purposes, but it’s only a few hours, not the whole day. Which day depends on which day the chaplains have services for our particular religious preference. After all, we’ve got Christians, Catholic and the various protestant denominations, Muslims, Buddhists, and others. Not enough time in a day to do them all on the same day. I know they have a Catholic Chaplain and a protestant chaplain, but I don’t about the others, but they still work a way for everyone to practice their faith while they’re here.

Well, I’m going to sign off for now. Remember, any question, comments, or concerns are welcome. My wife will be forwarding all blog responses to me so that I may address them personally.