Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TTT - 8/9: Skip it!

Today started 47 hours ago. I'll see you guys next week!

As Lynette said to me, "Just skip..." ;)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

TTT - 8/2: Passing the Torch!

Here it is, the Tuesday I have been waiting for. Today was the day that MSRON 2 and PSU 307 took the watch!

The whole of this last week has just been prep for this day. We have been showing them around the base, and in my case around town, so that they have the information they need to run this operation. I was going to say smoothly, but as we have all learned in the PSU community every unit does stuff differently. What runs smooth for me might not work for the next guy. That is fine, let them build on what I have done.

Outside of the work, we have been busy working on getting our gear all packed and ready to go through customs. Luckily for us, we have had a group of guys who haven't had a whole lot to do this last 6 months so they are taking the brunt of that work load. The hardest part of getting the gear packed up was the fact that we still had people sleeping during the day up until today, and the re-deployment crew was going through gear...not quietly...

Other than those things, our shop spent a good majority of our time trying to clear up all the boat issues that had all happened at once, as we're trying to turn over of course. The guys did a commendable job without too much negativity other than the overall feeling of wanting to leave!

Next on the agenda...pack some more and get ready to depart. We don't know exactly when we will be leaving, but we know an approximate date. We know roughly when we will finally arrive at home too, but, of course, these things are secret until 48 hours prior to departure. I can say that the new CTG 56.5 can't wait for us to leave almost as much as we can't wait to get out of here!

So here I leave you this week, internet service probably not going to be around too many more days, without a cell phone (WOOHOO!!!) and debating internet speed with the two guys who "live" with me. Apparently my independent router is interfering with their independent USB wireless devices. Sure fellas!

I may not be around next Tuesday to post anything due to a potential lack of internet service. So I post at the next available opportunity. See you then!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

TTT - 7/26: Where'd the Time Go?

Good evening in blogland! (I write these around 8 PM local Kuwait time for those who didn't know.) Here is another Tuesday come up to bite me. Time to think of stuff to talk about!

Good news on all fronts this week. First and foremost, my illness passed within a couple days. I got about 12 hours of sleep last Tuesday into Wednesday so I think I rested enough to help fight off whatever I had. I also happened to have allergy medicine I brought with me that was not being utilized so that probably helped too. ;)

Second piece of good news, the relieving crew has arrived!!!

Friday the Navy's relief force arrived, and Sunday our reliefs came in. The turnover process is in full swing now! We have people getting off the boats so that they can get on, we have people packing up stuff to get shipped home, and there are people everywhere!

The bad news is there are people EVERYWHERE! Getting food is an ordeal with the lines, all the pool tables are always taken, and they bring homeland germs here! I am pretty sure they got me sick, but I am over that since their presence means my presence is about to be terminated in Kuwait! I'm hoping the new crew will take over this weekend, but I'm pretty sure we'll be working all the way up til turnover.

That's about it for this week. Things are kind of hectic, running around trying to get them all set up in the local database. Even with all the excitement of turnover I'm still dealing with boat issues...and not all the issues are with the equipment...

Enough about that. Next week will hopefully be more exciting, but you know me...I'll probably forget all the exciting stuff. ;) See you then!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

TTT - 7/19: Not now!

Hello blogland! I see Lynette finally graced you all with her presence. ;) I guess her segment should be called Lynette's Takeover Thursday since she hasn't posted in FOREVER! Anyway, it's Tuesday again, which means you get to read this weeks adventures. Well...sort of...

Today's blog is going to be short. I think the allergies of being in the dust bowl have finally won, and I 'm getting a sinus infection. I hope it isn't that bad, but I am very tired, and, other than my alarm for Tuesday going off, I've been sleeping since I got off work.

The big news this week for me is that the advanced team for our reliefs arrived! WOOHOO!!! My relief has been looking through the shop and checking out some of the paperwork. He hasn't quite acclimated to the time change, but he's real close. The rest of their crew gets here later this week/next week.

Everyone is super excited to see them! I know what the guys we relieved felt like 6 months ago. ;) I have commenced driving my relief around and getting his lay of the land under control. Next week will be more of the same with the ultimate goal of them taking over almost completely.

Just as an update, I did finally get to go to the range! As expected, I can shoot an M16 with relative accuracy, but the new pistols are still not my best weapon. Oh well, next time I'll get to shoot in a far less hostile (read HOT!!!) environment. Someone said it was 135 degrees while we were out there shooting. There are no structures at the range for people to get out of the sun so they left the bus running for 3 hours with the AC on. It was miserable!

But all that is over now, turnover is in full swing! That means we are almost out of this place. I hate to be less than informative this week, but all I can think of is going back to sleep. ;)

I'll be back next week! Hopefully, full of energy and ready to tell of more tales from Kuwait. See you then!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TTT - 7/12: New Digs

Blog day! As Tracey says, "One week closer to being home with Lynette and the kids!"

Oh the excitement this week! I don't even know where to begin. Let's begin with the move since that is where the title comes from. In preparation for the oncoming crew we have condensed from 7 PCBs (Pre-cast Concrete Building) into 3.5. My PCB was one of the lucky ones that got to move. This is my second move since being here as, if you recall I mentioned weeks ago, the advanced team lived in a different building from the one I just spent 5 months in.

In an attempt to not get all riled up, as this topic has made me for the last week +, let's just say it didn't go according to the plan. We are all moved now and I'm nice and snuggled into an isle bed where everyone can pass by, point, and laugh at the zoo animal. ;) I spend a lot of time in my off hours just sitting here on the internet so some of them who sleep during the day might think I am sewn to the bed. :p

Today was supposed to be the day I told everyone that another topic of my ire is also complete, the range. Sadly, that is not the case and I have rescheduled to tomorrow afternoon...where it will probably be like the last 2 days, 110 degrees with 65-70% humidity. I have sweat buckets the last 2 days because I have been forced to be outside for extended periods that I am not used to...I'm a paper pusher now, I can't handle that kind of heat! :p

Other than that, we are continuing to prep for our departure here. We are starting to hand in gear for inspection by customs. Some of us are gathering items together and shipping them home so we don't have to carry as much to the airport. This is a little spendy, but I definitely think it's worth it! This also helped quite a few of us go from our customary two locker setup from the old building to our new one locker setup in the new one. Sacrifices are being made, but we're leaving soon so we are just rolling with the punches. I feel like the "Greatest" using the Rope-a-Dope until they wear themselves out and I can deliver the knock out blow, going home!

That's it for this week. Hopefully, if all goes well, I will be in full swing of turnover with my relief and start the slow wind-down. Things are about to get pretty hectic and cramped around camp so I'm hoping I keep what little sanity I have left intact. ;)

See you next week!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

TTT - 7/5: Independence Week!

Blog day, here again! It's July!!! X amount of time before we come home!!! One less Tuesday to go. And so on and so forth...on to the show!

As per usual, this week was mostly uneventful. As I mentioned last week, I was supposed to go to the range. That was canceled due to weather. The group that went the day before us got stuck their the next morning because the visibility was terrible. Sandstorms are crazy! As the day went on, the "weather" got worse so they postponed our day. I have no idea how or when they plan on rescheduling us because turnover is right around the corner, but the next comment I have is derogatory and not suitable for deployment talk. ;)

Friday there were some NFL coaches on camp, I missed it because I was working on some caching things (more on that later!) It was the head coach from Houston, the coach from Arizona (boooo!!!! :p), former Seahawks head coach Jim Mora, Jr, and former coach Jim Mora, Sr. They changed the time on it twice so I missed it, but ultimately I was working toward a different goal when someone asked if I went. I may have said an expletive or two when I realized what time it was. ;)

The rest of the weekend itself was pretty slow, but I got two packages! One from my lovely wife, who sent me more books than I'll be able to read in a year, and more food than I'll be able to consume in the time we have left here. :p There was also a few DVDs which I appreciated greatly! (Zack and Miri is hilarious btw!) The day before that though, I got my caching stuff!!! I received two fake rocks, 5 nanos, and a small lock-n-lock container. I had an awesome multi/bonus caches set up like one similar to home, but I've run into a couple issues with that. (That's another story.) I hid them all last night (4th of July hides!!!) while the main attraction for the camp was going on. Michael Peterson was here for a "concert." Since I was out hiding caches I didn't get to see it, but apparently he did my storytelling than singing. He is a WA native I am told. The best part is Lynette saw him in Nashville on her latest ombudsman trip. Small world!

I was all fired up today about some stuff. We are moving into a different building in prep for the new crew. There is an instruction on what is going to happen, how the move is going to go, and who is moving where. Some people don't want to do what their told, so as Lynette said to me, "Way to make friends" by calling people out and making sure things go as planned. This is the military people...life sucks for short periods sometimes. DEAL WITH IT! That's my little angry moment...I try to contain those, but it doesn't always work out in my favor. :D

On a positive note for today, I got a FTF!!! I now have to move one of the 9 containers I placed yesterday, but those have other issues anyway. Maybe next week I can talk about the caches I got published...as of now they are a no go. :( I have my best people working on it!

That is it for this week. I hope it was a little more enjoyable than the last few weeks. I also hope as the weeks go by my attitude gets better, but as it stands right now, I won't hold my breath. I bid everyone a good Tues-Mon, and I'll see you next week!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TTT - 6/28: Winding Down?

Another Tuesday is here! Last blog for June 2011 from Kuwait. Ahh, the milestones we keep track of here. ;)

Really the only things I want to write about in this latter portion of the deployment are gripes and complaints. That, however, is not the purpose of this forum for me, and if the command found it they would not be gentle. So I'll keep the ranting to a minimum and try to be civil. :D

We are into the push for the next crew to get here. Boats are getting pulled and given a good once over to make sure nothing major is jacked up. We are making plans for what boats are going to come in and when...futile given the fact the boats are still operating and breaking, but we do what we can. It's hard to make a schedule, and a tool for retrieving boats has essentially been removed until the new crew arrives. That's about it for that because everything else will be me venting about something...

It is staying fairly consistent in the heat category here. The average temperature is roughly 115. It makes it difficult to be outside, but those of us who need to be out in it are managing. (I have an office with AC so I'm not one of the tough ones! :p)

Another event going down right now is the range. All PSU personnel will be filtering through the range between now and when the next crew gets here. I'm going this week, and if I want to stay positive on this blog I probably won't write anything more about it after this sentence.

The countdown is in full swing for a lot of the guys, but I'm trying not to get in to it. The command is making everyone aware of the time left as well so it has been difficult to avoid. I keep telling people if the number of days left has more than one digit, I don't want to hear about it. Maybe when the next bunch gets here I'll start paying attention, but until then I have stuff to focus on.

I think I'll call it good there this week. There hasn't been much else exciting going on. My caching supplies shipped on Friday so I might be busy putting all of that stuff together in the next week or two to keep me sane!

Until then, see you next week!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

TTT - 6/21: What's next?

Another week has passed us by. Yay! The good news about this week is I don't remember much of it. ;) Time is starting to blur together in a rapid fashion which makes time seem to fly by.

As I mentioned last week, this was our big show. There wasn't a whole lot going on in my world, but we got the last major milestone of the deployment out of the way from the command standpoint. Now we are on to the next phase, which is get ready to leave!

This week also was Father's Day week. There were lots of presents received, kind words exchanged, and a RC car road race. ;) My lovely wife got me a book, that I asked her for two months ago. There is more to this story that might seem comical to some and very angering to others. Let's just leave it at it is signed by the author, and I loved it!

"Books" seem to be the common gift around here during this deployment. Whether it be a gift to ourselves or from home, the literature is flowing! Now you'll notice how I wrote "books." In this fabulous age of technology it isn't good enough to get a bound book anymore. (This is my preference, and it's hard to sign a digital book!) There are all sorts of eBook readers around this place.

I know of one Kindle received this weekend. Just in my division that makes 4 people with them. Granted one person has gone through two since we got here...ironically enough he's the electronics specialist. :D There are also a few iPads floating around. I guess these are great pieces of technology, but it will never substitute holding a book and turning the pages. Plus, how am I going to have a study or den or library if all my books are all just bytes on a hard drive somewhere....LAME!

I'm sure these things are very handy to have on a short trip or when you have to pack light, but I have yet to find a justification for owning one myself. Most of the books I read aren't even available in digital format so now they really seem useless! ;)

Now that I have finished my eBook reader tangent, all I have to say is that the next couple weeks hold a trip to the range, (not excited about that,) and getting boats and records ready for the oncoming crew to take over. I can only hope it goes fast, but at least I have this weekly ritual to help me pass the time.

With that, I bid you adieu, and I'll see you back here next week!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TTT - 6/14: Showtime!

Good news! Another week has passed! ;) That is about all though, that I can talk about. I'll do my best to say what I can this week.

So the title of this blog may be confusing, but I will explain the best I can without saying too much, as I said before. Last week was relatively busy for the Boat Maintenance Facility. We were playing the musical boats game. We had all of our boats in our shop at some point last week for various reasons. Most of them were getting preventative maintenance. The Navy side also had a few boats in. Right now, there are no boats in the shop. (Maybe we can get it cleaned out before we have to pull one!)

This is where the title comes in, our purpose for being here is upon us for the last time before we leave. I can't say how long, what it is, or when we are leaving, but there it is! Showtime, the pucker factor is at it's peak. Is it dangerous? I guess, but the command is on alert so everyone else is a little edgy. That's pretty much the extent of what I can say without getting myself in trouble.

Highlights from last week for me other than work...I made my iPhone work as a phone for the first time in 5 months. :p I lowered the number of caches I can find by 2 last week as well. That leaves 6 that I can realistically get to before we leave. There may be a possibility for more since I found out everyone has to go to the range before we leave here...(not a happy camper about that btw.) That will be a tale for another time though.

This is where I sign off for the week. I'll be back next Tuesday for more "exciting" tales from Kuwait! See you then. ;)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

TTT - 6/7: Short and Sweet

Ahh, Tuesday. The first Tuesday of June! Someone gave me a number of Mondays we have left. I told him not to tell me that again...it's still way too many. :p

This week, like so many before, has been uneventful. I can't even think of anything interesting to write. And the things that I can think of to write, I'm not allowed to. So this week I'm just going to make this a quick, "Hello!"

Everything here is fine, other than the 115 degree heat that is only going to get worse. Work is picking up briefly, and then we'll be in full swing to get ready for the new crew.

I have a feeling the remaining weeks are going to follow suit with this blog, but you never know. That next exciting moment could be anywhere around the corner! (Hopefully it's sooner rather than later! ;))

So I leave you with that for the week, and next week there will be more words on the internet! :p

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TTT - 5/31: Another month down!

Ahh, Tuesday again. The alarm is working, and Lynette didn't have to remind me! What happened this week?

Well, beyond wishful thinking, I have nothing exciting to write about this week. The highlight of this week so far has been Tracey unloading her FrontierVille collection inventory on me. (Thanks, Tracey! I probably would have never gotten all those things. ;))

We had our first three day weekend! Well, some people did...mine was cut short by a Memorial Day ceremony at the basketball court. It was a nice gesture, but it was 120 at 10 AM so not very fun. After that I had some paperwork to catch up on from the previous week, my Monday ritual. That pretty much put me at a full workday. At least most of my guys took the three day weekend off! For those who were really ambitious Monday morning, there was a 5k run. At 6 AM it was 85 degrees, and by the time most people were done at 6:30 it was about 95. Not my idea of a good time. I'll wait for the Father's Day 3 man 6k relay. :D

The evening included some activities that mostly involved non-alcoholic beer. C'mon guys, why punish yourselves like that?! No one I know drinks Budweiser for the taste... There was volleyball, free throw & 3-point shooting contests, tug-of-war, among other festivities. I chose to play pool beforehand and be gone before the NA beer started flowing.

With this incredible heat came an inquiry about how to keep our shop cool during the day. (Not everyone get's to work at night. :D) The solution was a curtain enclosure... It's basically a large mesh tarp that traps heat in. So instead of being 110 in the shade of the shop compared to the 120 in the sun, it's now 135 in the shade of the shop. We had working AC units until a few days ago when they replaced the generator with a new one that requires a key...I have yet to see this key. On top of that, only one of the two AC units is hooked up to the generator. Maybe when the AC units are both working, it will be less than completely miserable in the shop, but for now I'll stick to my office.

Today is the last day of May. That's another page on the calendar that is now behind us. We have a couple more left, which sadly is always the longest. I'm hoping a couple things pick up here for a least a couple weeks to help the time go by, but even then, that will just be a short reprieve. I plan on getting some geocaching supplies out here to plant some of those bad boys. I already have one ready to go, I just have to place it. ;) As of now it is camouflaged perfectly on one of my lockers with something written on it. :p

That does it for this week. Next week will be June! (Is 307 here yet? :p) See you then!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

TTT - 5/24: Squeaking it in!

So it's technically still Tuesday at home! Lynette reminded me in a quick conversation this morning that I forgot something...typical. ;)

My alarm I have set for this went off right in my hand, but I was having issues getting some webpages loaded and I lost track of what I was doing. These things happen. Now to come up with something interesting to say...

We have now had the guys on the night shift for a week. The week has been full of nothing but heartache for those guys. The boats would breakdown, they would get fixed then another one would break, rinse and repeat for a week. It would be one thing if they were easily solved problems, but the boats here are so beat down that they are random, off the wall problems that take almost all work day to discover. Sometimes we would get a boat fixed, drop it in the water, then we would have to pull it again with another issue. Such is the life of the boat maintenance facility.

During the day we have been fighting boredom. There has been a gun rack that needed some modifications for someone's personal use...that is how DC2 has been killing time. I have been working on admin stuff which is monotonous, but someone has to do it.

That is about it, we have plans to run around town this week. There should break up the tedious tasks to stay awake during the hot of the day. I may even find some time for some geocaching. ;)

Next week, hopefully I'll have more exciting tales, but probably not. ;) See you then!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

TTT - 5/17: Writer's Block

Another Tuesday has arrived! I have heard that this has become someone's weekly ritual. Yes, someone other than me! ;) If you're wondering about the alarm...it did go off, I was not here (initially,) and Andy did not smash the phone! Luckily for me, I was only about 5 minutes behind the alarm.

So this week I have absolutely nothing to write about, hence the title. The only big news is that it has been freakin' hot here. We have had black flag days (over 93 degrees with humidity) every day since last week. This has led the guys to finally get their wish and shift to a night shift. Good news for them, bad news for me. They get to work when it's cooler, and I am stuck in the shop during the day with just the Navy guys! One of the guys did volunteer to stay on days with me. This allows his duty section to sleep while he takes trouble calls, and it prevents me from having to hunt down someone to go with me if I have to leave the base for any reason.

Other than that life is pretty boring. I'm so bored that the highlight of my day is playing Mafia Wars and Frontierville on facebook. I'm either doing that or reading...and as Lynette is aware, I am running out of books. ;) I do watch movies, but my supply of movies isn't unlimited either. There are also two TV shows I get every week via iTunes, but one is having it's season finale this week...So much time so little to do. :p Every couple days I do find myself playing pool at the MWR. I'm not the greatest player in the world by any stretch, but I have managed to pull off some pretty decent shots (and still usually lose!)

And here is where it ends this week. As I said, I just haven't had anything exciting going on worth noting. Hopefully next week will be more intriguing (sorry Tracey. ;)) So until then, have a good week!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TTT - 5/10: I have truly taken over!

It is 7:30 in the PM locally. My alarm went off at 7:00...and I wasn't here! But I did have my phone with me so Andy wouldn't smash it!!! ;) (Crap, I need something to write about...)

So last week was less than eventful for me. The most exciting thing that didn't happen yesterday you may note at the bottom of this week's blog entry. I am no longer posting as "Lynette Fuge" on this page! I figured out some of the settings for this thing while I was looking for something else. The editing of this setting may be useful to me in a project I am currently trying to revive at the urging of a couple of my MK brethren...*looks in the general direction of Dave and Devlon's rooms*

The story behind how I figured it out is less than interesting and isn't very long, but it does involve one of Lynette's many projects while I'm away. As you may know she is my unit's ombudsman. For those of you who didn't know or don't know what that means, she is the liaison between my command and the families of those of us sweating profusely in late Winter, early Spring. ;) She is trying to figure out how to setup a blog for that, but apparently there is some regulation that states it needs to be accessed only by people who are authorized to get the information. Blogspot limits the number of readers one can have on a private page to 100...this is simply not enough if everyone authorized the information follows the blog. I was looking into some options on how to get around this or at another site that may be useful. That is how I stumbled onto the setting that allows me to post as myself! But we still haven't figured out the free private blog site that allows more than 100 readers. She is currently using Shutterfly, but they have ads and doodads galore on the page which is annoying and distracting. If you happen to know of anything...I'm all ears! (or eyes in this case, I guess)

I was wrong....I did have something exciting (to me) happen on Saturday which leads into Monday. I got two packages on Saturday, one large one and one small one. I have been waiting for a replacement HDD to show up because the one I bought here got corrupted and unusable after three weeks. I also was waiting for a shipment of parts to arrive from the unit back home. I went to pick up my small package because I need the box to ship the old HDD back to the company as part of the replacement agreement. The other box I asked if I could make arrangements to pick up Monday since I'll be at the shop. I was told that was no big deal, and the box is kind of heavy.

Yesterday, after lunch, I went to pick up my parts! Or so I thought...I was handed a box (50+lbs) shipped from Arizona. I don't know anyone who is currently in Arizona so I was perplexed! What could possibly be in this heavy box, specifically addressed to me, from an address I have never heard of before? How about 90 boxes of Girl Scout cookies? That's right...I have just received a mysterious box full of cookies from a Girl Scout troop in Arizona. Who could possibly have given my mailing address to these girls? My first thought was Devlon (because he's devious like that Tracey!) But even he would only subject me to 2 or 3 boxes of torture at a time, not 90! So call up the Mystery Machine...I need this case solved! There were also post cards in the box the girls had drawn on and wrote little messages on. I left them, with the cookies, in the Chief of the Watch office so everyone could enjoy. (I took 4 boxes for myself after I went to the gym 5 hours later. :p)

I shared the news with as many people as I could find who might know anything about random cookie deliveries and no one could tell me anything. So I went to Lynette for help. The only other thing I could think of was our friends from church who are in the Army Reserve had them sent. I had just received an Easter box from them full of junk food so it seemed semi-logical. I left the mystery with Lynette for the night, and I went to bed because my router battery died and I couldn't talk to her about it anymore.

By the time I woke up this morning the mystery had been solved, and the culprit was one I didn't expect! Larry (who was my Chief of the Boat when I was in the Navy) and his wife Terri have a niece who is in Girl Scouts in Arizona. They were the ones who had all the fat pills sent my way! What a nice gesture, as I now know 90 boxes of cookies were not meant for me. ;) If you're reading, thank you guys! I will be sending an email to the troop to give my thanks later.

So the rest of Monday was filled mostly with paperwork for me and boat maintenance for the rest of the guys. After dinner there was supposed to be a comedian here at the camp. When I was walking back to my building, the show had already started. To my knowledge it was supposed to be one guy and that was it, even though on the graphic going around camp, it was that guy and three women on the tour. I didn't think much of it when I saw the graphic because I figured that maybe they broke up here to go to different camps in one night. However, when I was walking through, one of the women was on stage. I was a little confused, but I stayed to watch anyway. Who doesn't like comedy in the desert?

When the first woman was done with her set, she introduced another woman...I am thoroughly confused at this point, but light is about to be shed on the subject! The second comedian explains why the man isn't on stage. Apparently they were in Africa last week and they got to play with the military police dogs. They dressed all up in the suits and got chased down by trained animals. The guy apparently got paired up with an 80 lb German Sheppard. He was given a head start, as is customary for training the dogs. By the time they let the dog go and it caught him, he had reached a wall...the dog and the wall made a comedian sandwich and the guy blew out his knee! So he was out of commission for this leg of the tour and we got all three women telling us jokes! It was hilarious and afterward we got to go up on stage to meet them and get autographs and take pictures. I'm not a picture guy so I stuck with the autographs. The first woman on stage wrote "Powder your balls!" on all the guys pages...except mine. Mine says, "Power your balls!" I don't know what that means, but I can come up with some fairly painful possibilities. :D

Well, as usual, I have come to the table with nothing to say, and filled it with tales of hilarity. ;) This is where I wrap up the show. I'll be here again next week to ramble on about another topic I haven't predetermined until I start clacking away at the keyboard. See you then! (Don't forget who wrote this entry this week! :D)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

TTT - 5/3: Now what?

Well, it's Tuesday again. According to the passive-aggressive note on my iPhone, that I sent an alarm on, anyway. ;) This will be the first week that I wing the blog...and I'm dedicating it to Andy. (Thanks for the note, jerk! :p)

Just to follow up on some old business, last week I talked about the cats. I have an update, sort of. On Friday before our command barbecue at the beach there was a kitten sighting! One of the guys was cleaning up before heading to the beach and this awful mewing sound, that would wake the dead, was blaring from under our water tank. There it was, a white little fuzzball. Mama was no where to be found at this time, but she has been frequenting the shop far more often these last two weeks so we knew she would be back. Saturday the same guy who found the first kitten was working on a project and there were 2! The one from Friday and an orange one (looks like mama.) So here we are with two kittens out of four. Until Monday...when we all come back we are back down to one kitten, the orange one. We don't think too much about it, I mean these things disappeared for two weeks and are back from no where. Today, both kittens were missing. So the moral of the story is we still don't know what happened to the kittens.

Now to new items. I'll start with Andy. Andy and I have been friends since I came to the unit almost 6 years ago. We have been on stupid parking lot camp-outs, infinitely more idiotic "logistics exercise" to Korea, a trip to Cuba, a short trip to Atlanta for some engine training, and now to the desert wasteland known as Kuwait. We started as MK3s together, now I'm the MK1 acting as a chief and he's an MK2 procrastinating on making MK1 because "he doesn't want the responsibility." (Hey Andy, you already have the responsibility, get paid for it! ;)) Anyway, we've been together for a while.

When this deployment/activation started, Lynette instructed me to do these weekly updates. As you know, I started late and then would occasionally forget to do them. Also, as you know, I have set an alarm for every Tuesday to remind myself to do them. Here is where the problem begins. I set the alarm for 7:30 PM. So far, in the weeks I have had the alarm set, I have been here one time when it has gone off. Like any good alarm, I made it one of the most annoying sounds I could find...in this case it is the sound of a slot machine clanking around and spewing money. The great thing about iPhone alarms is that if you don't get to it right away because it may not be loud enough, it automatically becomes more audible so you can hear it. Oh, and it doesn't shut off until you turn it off. Enter Andy...

As you may imagine, this alarm can be very annoying if left unattended. Tonight was one of the nights I was not here to hear it. I set it for 7:30 because I figured I would be back from the gym and dinner in time to hear it go off and I could get to writing. Boy have I been wrong! Tonight I decided to stop at the MWR building and play pool with our DC2. This is just something to breakup the monotony of getting up, showering, going to breakfast, going to work, going to lunch, back to work, go to the gym, eat dinner, go to bed. Well, the alarm went off and since Andy's bunk is right on the other side of one of the walls of lockers from me, he came in to turn it off. Apparently this is a weekly occurrence for him. So when I got back to my room I had a note waiting for me on my iPhone...

I would share the contents of this note, but this is a family show. :p Andy has a pretty good sense of humor so the note was laced with passive-aggressiveness and some expletives just to spice it up. He finished it off with "Much Love, Andy." What a guy! This is all in fun so we laughed about it prior to me beginning my weekly venture into sharing with the world. Although, I'm sure it is super irritating for my alarm to be going off when I'm not here...

So on that little tidbit of storytelling, I will call it a blog. I hope you enjoy my freestyle ramblings this week...there will be plenty more where that came from. So see everyone next week!

(Now where is my phone so I can set it for 8:30... :D)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TTT - 4/26: Kuwait Update Pt. 5

Here we are again. These Tuesdays just keep getting closer and closer together. That's a good thing, I guess, when you are waiting for the day to come when you can go home! I am not the only one away from home this week though...Lynette finds herself in Chicago as of yesterday. But this isn't about Lynette, she can post something if she wants. ;) On with this weeks topic!

So here at Muhammed Al Ahmed Naval Base, or KNB as we call it, there are a variety of "stray" animals. The camp has (or had...I haven't seen him in a couple weeks) a dog that roams around between the buildings and greets people as the day goes by. I even found him as a running partner one night while getting ready for the semi-annual Physical Readiness Test this month. The rumor is that he belongs to some of the Third Country National workers here on base, but no one who is here now can verify that rumor. "Steve" is not the topic of this week's blog though.

There apparently is a rodent problem here on base. So how does one combat such a problem? That's right...cats. The base has cats everywhere! There are cats in the camp, there are cats at the boat house, there are even cats at the other base where our boats operate. All those cats seem to be pretty well fed, yet every night I still see the rodents scurrying around the camp or around other parts of the base. I want to give you information about three very specific cats though. These cats are the BMF cats.

That's right. My shop has three cats "assigned" to it. An Army officer came down about a week after we took over from the last unit to inform us that we are responsible for these cats. This proved fairly interesting to me because when we got our in-brief to the camp, they explicitly explained to us how we don't own the cats and we are NOT to feed the cats. They are purely for rodent control. These things seem to completely contradict one another...The other piece of this strange puzzle to "our" cats is that the last unit bought cat food and stored it in a box where the cats slept (I didn't know this part until later.) This spot also doubled as the smoking area...

So the a few days went by and I noticed the cats, who are normally very skittish and run off when we come around, were inching their way closer and closer to where the guys congregate during the day. I couldn't figure out why...we didn't really pay them much attention since we didn't feed them as instructed. This is when our Navy counterparts told me about the cat food and that we were out. I also had noticed that no one was watering them. I can understand not feeding them, they should hunt for the mice, but they can't get their own water...

After a discussion with our officer regarding the care in which we were supposed to give these cats (and a few cans of tuna later) it was determined that these cats were indeed not to be fed, but watering them was deemed acceptable. We're not in the business of watching cats wither away...then something happened.

I had noticed that one of the orange cats (two orange cats and one white cat with orange patches) went missing. I didn't really think much of it since we weren't feeding them they spent most of the day out, I assume, hunting. Then a couple days later I noticed that none of the cats were around. This was only odd because usually when we arrived in the morning they were just starting to get moving. Again, I didn't put a whole lot of thought into this anomaly because maybe they finally found someone to feed them. Oh well, less focus on the cats, more focus on work. This was a Friday and we take the weekends off unless something comes up. Monday morning rolls around, and still no sign of the cats. Again, no harm no foul, time to get to work.

As I have mentioned, there is a dual bathroom shack in our compound. This is where I noticed something. There were strange noises coming from under the shack...noises I haven't heard in many, many years. There they were...4 kittens and mama! This was the cat I first noticed had gone missing. She had burrowed away under the bathroom to pop out some kittens over the weekend. Now what are we supposed to do? She isn't going to be able to go hunt with kittens and we aren't supposed to feed the cats. As I said before, I'm not in the watching cats die business. So I broke down and got her a can of tuna (that we may or may not have been stashing away for the cats) and I put a bowl of water down for her.

This is where the story sort of winds to a close as well as gets a little sad with a twist of unknown. So Tuesday we had one of our lovely sand storms. So since boats weren't getting underway, we didn't have anything to do so we took the day off. This means no one was down at the shop to keep an eye on the cat situation from our side. There were a couple Navy guys that made the venture in the bad weather, but they stayed inside as much as possible. Wednesday I strolled in to the shop and went straight to where the kittens were at when I last saw them on Monday...gone! And the mama cat had also disappeared. Did she move them during the storm, did someone come and snatch them up while no one was around, or did the unspeakable happen and they all died?! Well, I can't speak for 3 of the 4 kittens, but one of our Navy friends said he saw the white and orange cat come back earlier that morning...with a kitten. :( The next day we saw the mama cat wandering around looking somewhat frantic, but we weren't sure if she was looking for kittens or food. That was the last we saw of any of the cats for a little while, that was two weeks ago.

Now, the next Wednesday the mama cat came strolling through the shop again. This time she wasn't frantic, but she was clearly hungry as she made her way through the trash cans as per normal. This started to become a daily occurrence and I watched her retreat to the junk yard across the street from our shop. I still don't know the outcome of the other three kittens so I guess it's possible she has them in the junk yard, but no one really knows for sure. Thursday on her daily stroll through the shop, the white and orange cat came back. It was not a friendly reunion...they fought under one of the boat trailers in the shop before we left for lunch...it wasn't a long fight though. By the end of Friday I had seen all three of "our" cats. None of them are living in the shop anymore, but they still seem to come scrounging for food in our garbage cans. We don't eat at the shop so I don't really know what they think they'll find.

Today one of the guys felt sorry for mama cat and opened up a can of tuna for her. She is looking pretty thin. She devoured the tuna in a matter of minutes. In a discussion we were having about the cats while we watched her from afar we determined that everywhere else on base we see these fat cats roaming around (not from rodents of course,) and then there are these three. Charged to us by some misfortune of their fate, forced to live off of rodents that clearly don't exist in our area since they have to have been living off of something! They wouldn't be able to roam to a different portion of the base though as the stronger, rounder cousins would probably kill them...

Pretty macabre, but such is the life of the BMF cats! That wraps it up this week. I'm not sure what else to talk about now. I know no one wants to hear about broken boats and us fixing them. ;)

I'll keep the alarm on...I can probably spew forth some nugget to share with you all next week. Maybe I'll talk about the barbecue on Friday at the beach...Stay tuned, and I'll see you next week!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

TTT - 4/19: Kuwait Update Pt. 4

Is it really Tuesday again?! Well, my iPhone alarm says it is so I guess I should come up with something to write about! Here we go...

So the weather here has been interesting since I arrived in January. First off, it was winter when we got here so the days were in the mid 60s and the nights got into the 30s...no big deal, if this is how the desert is going to be I'm gtg! The unit we relieved told us it was even the rainy season...never heard of such an animal in the desert, but some things are green here so I guess I'll buy it.

After the first week the rain decided to show us what "rainy season" truly meant. It would roll in ominously, as most rain storms do, and then it would rain for about 30 minutes at night. Then the storm would blow over and the ground wouldn't stay wet for more than a couple hours. And I got some good sleep! ;) This type of rain, however, was merely a tease. About a week after the rest of the guy showed up the true rains came. It rained about 15 days out of the first three weeks everyone was here...including a stretch of 8 days where the sky leaked at various intensities. During this storm system the grounds flooded, including the creation of what we at the BMF (Boat Maintenance Facility, where I work) have dubbed "Lake Bjorn." Don't ask me why Bjorn became the namesake for this ever growing pond at the entrance to our shop, I was not there at that particular venture (probably off dealing with driver's licenses or internet!)

After the week and a half long flood the rainy season was over...and the heat started coming on. At first we didn't notice the heat. It slowly crept from mid 60s to 80s with little mention of how hot it had gotten. It actually was quite comfortable after the last month of disgustingly damp weather. During this time though (roughly a 6 weeks into the deployment) we got to witness another awesome weather phenomenon that happens in this part of the world...sand storms!

This storm came in on a Friday night (I know because I pick my laundry up on Fridays) about the time I was getting ready to go to dinner and then grab my freshly cleaned clothes. As I walked out of my PCB I saw people staring to the west, mouth agape and taking pictures. This was pretty odd because our PCB is in the corner of the compound and all there is to the west is a brick wall and Constantina wire...not very picture worthy if you ask me. So being the curious being that we all are I took a peak. To my surprise, all I see is a big black cloud rolling in, FAST! Upon further staring I noticed that the cloud was not black at all, but dark brown, and it was pretty low...clearly the desert has decided I am impeding on it's space and I need to go away. So I ended up not going to dinner that night or picking up my laundry. That storm blew from about 5:30 PM until about midnight, but the dust didn't settle until after 3 AM. There was sand EVERYWHERE! We ended up cleaning the shop for about 3 days afterward...luckily the PCB doors were closed and tight enough to hold most the dust out.

The good news after that dust storm was our shop got really clean...the bad news was that another storm rolled through the night we got the shopped all clean. :p This second storm wasn't nearly as bad as the first, but all the nice clean shop needed another bath. Go figure...

Well, now we are into Spring and we are doing good with the 80 degree weather then one day last week it hit. BOOM 97 degrees. And now I must mention again that my shop is open on one side and the air conditioning isn't exactly rated to cool...Kuwait. :p Since then it has consistently been in the mid 90s with one day (Friday) being just into the 100s. Anyone want to sweat off a few pounds? I know this place... :D

Well, I have rambled on about one topic again for a great length so I guess that leaves the cat discussion for next week. Fine by me...with things going the way they are I'm going to run out of material! So with that I leave you for another week!

See you then...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

TTT - 4/12: Kuwait Update Pt. 3

It's Tuesday!!! Yes, I did set an alarm, but I was at dinner when it went of...I'm sure my roommates loved that. :D On with the storytelling!

So I left off with our crew taking over. We work in essentially a carport that is enclosed on three sides and the Navy crew we work with splits to bays within the building with us. The rest of the building is Kuwaiti Navy and we don't ever see anyone over there, not that we are really looking for anyone. Within our shop there are two offices. One is for the crew to sort of congregate and do training or relax. This is usually full of Navy guys as my guys use chairs in the shop near the toolboxes. The other office is where I work. Nothing really special about it except it has desks. This is also where we have meetings for the leadership or planning for the upcoming weeks.

The shop also has a little portable box that contains two bathrooms. One side has AC so when it gets hot, apparently guys from the old units would go hide out. Seems gross to me, but to each his own. :p

The final bit about the shop is that three cats live there. The base has cats scattered throughout for rodent control. I don't know what rodents they are controlling because I see mice all the time! Anyway, those three are assigned to my shop area. As one Army warrant officer told me, "You are responsible for them." Whatever that means...we aren't supposed to feed them per our "Welcome to Kuwait!" brief. There will be more on the cats later...

So at some point during my early existence in Kuwait, it was determined that I was going to handle the internet acquisition for our unit, at the least, and maybe the Navy if we could get a good deal. This starts a two month process...

So before the unit we relieved leaves, I am taken to a local cellular/wireless broadband company. The person who took me had to cancel their internet because our command didn't want what they had, and I was there to try and figure out what they could do for us for the time we would be here. This meeting included managers from sales, legal, and some other department that I don't recall. The general consensus when the meeting was over was that the best thing for our needs would be to get individual USB devices that connected wirelessly to their cell towers (their 3G network.) The only thing I needed to figure out now was how many people were going to be interested so I could give them a rough number for them to cut us an offer.

This process of collecting interested parties took roughly 3 weeks...we had already been in Kuwait for a week. I should say it took me that long to just get them a number so they would give us an offer because no one wanted to commit with a price tag. Fair enough...

1 month down, and the outgoing crew were selling off the methods of internet to people like hotcakes...first thorn in my side. All the while I'm running a boat maintenance facility where we are playing revolving boats because the minute the off-going crew was relieved everything started going wrong! (Go figure...) So with an estimated number of interested bodies, I head back to town for my second meeting. There I meet the sales woman I would be dealing with for the rest of this process. We go over some details and she gives me tentative information...all based on a set amount of time for a contract. This amount of time would have been feasible had we started this process when I got here, not a month and a half later...

This is where the internet story takes a turn for the irritating. I take the information I gathered back to the unit for people to mill over. All the while, the command had gone to the Army to get on their internet system...thorn in my side #2. Now we are polling everyone to see which they would prefer...2 week process. Time is not on our side as the offer for the USB connections is going to change if we can't commit to X amount of time. (Which we end up not being able to do...)

After the two weeks are up, the general consensus of the unit is that USB wireless cards are preferred, but instead of the 75 potential people I gave the company I'm looking at about 45. (Please refer to old unit's stuff selling like hotcakes.) On top of that, as I mentioned, we can't commit to the minimum time to get the great deal. The company mills all this information over and comes back to me (in a third meeting) with free devices, but we have to pay the full monthly service fee which is roughly $75. Free device, no big deal...45 people still on board! Oh wait...we forgot you said you can't commit to the time, while I have told everyone the price and started collecting money. USB's are now full price (roughly $45.) Instantly down to 22 people. I explain that is unacceptable and they manage to knock the price in half for the device. I little more acceptable and we get a final tally of 27 people with internet...2 months into our deployment.

Of course to conclude this part of the internet saga...my sales rep then informs me they want the rest of the money for the entire contract by the end of the month. I told her I would do my best, but that's not exactly the best thing to ask someone who was getting the runaround...

I know I said we would be caught up by the end of this week (and I sort of am,) but I think I'll leave it here and talk about the weather and cats next week. I have to have something to write about...things are getting slow here. :)

See you next week! (Yes, I still have the alarm set. :p)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

TTT - 4/5: Kuwait Update Pt. 2

So as usual, I forgot to blog for two weeks then I'm a day late the next week. I guess I should set an alarm for Tuesday afternoons! Anyway, on with the update!

I left off at the end of week one, desperately wanting the rest of the unit to arrive! That would wait another week though. So in the meantime, between paperwork and turnover stuff, I went caching on Kuwait Naval Base. Yup, they have that here too! The good news was there were 4 caches listed on the base! One I had been tracking since May of last year...it hadn't been found. Can you say FTF in a foreign land because I CAN! :D After further research, I realized that 90% of the caches in Kuwait are on Coalition Forces Facilities. Good news for me, and bad news for me...

So to leave our base we have to have a letter that says we are allowed to leave to go do certain job related tasks on the other bases. Problem 1, not all bases have job related tasks on them for everyone. Problem 2, the letters expire every week so I constantly have to get updated ones. Problem 3, none of the letters allow for travel out to Kuwait City...this is the biggest problem for me since I have to get items in the city to do my job. The good news there is that people know this and don't really bug me too much about it.

Another road block in the leaving the base is that people who live here drive...well, let's just say they aren't the safest people to drive around. Speeds of up to (I'm guessing) 200 KmPH. That's about 125 MPH... They don't typically use turn signals. If you are in the space they wish to occupy, they will move you if they can't get around you. The best part is that Stop signs are generally more of a suggestion than a law... All these things require us to carry a letter that indicates the risks of driving and the precautions taken to mitigate those risks. We are now up to 2 pieces of paper required to leave the base...

Now, on my "Travel Letter," an E8 (second highest enlisted rank) or an O5 (the lowest rank of a "senior" officer) has to sign the letter. That is of course unless you have a Letter of Exception to Policy signed by the general...this letter states that an O4 can sign the letter which in our case is who signs the letters...paper number 3.

Finally we need the vehicle registration placard, which is like our DoD stickers at home, but we rent the vehicles here so there are no decals. Also we need to show our IDs. In other words, we have to carry a binder of crap just to leave the base...And if there is more than one person (which you can't go out alone of course) each person needs a "Travel Letter." Now off we go!

So we can't go anywhere unless on official business, we can't go to town without long pants, and generally speaking we should wear collared shirts to conduct any business. Good thing some people were told they wouldn't need civilian clothes. ;)

The final week without the crew was pretty uneventful. I went out in town a few times to make the contacts I needed for buying stuff locally and we took a trip to one of the local cellular companies. The cell companies here are the only source of wireless internet, which is the primary internet source. That trip will be touched on later as it is an on-going story that just recently concluded and we still aren't out of early February in this update. :D

Just before the main body arrived the 9 of us enlisted were moved into our permanent barracks, which was one row of buildings from where we already were...why we couldn't stay I don't know, but that's the Army for you. :p Once we got into our buildings we moved beds and lockers around to try and make the accommodations a little more friendly. Boat division had their own building, as did Security. The rest of the the unit who were not chiefs, officers, Weapons department (they got to stay with their Navy counterparts,) or female got another building (my building!) Each division then got their own "room" in the building. We tried to make the individual space as fair as possible, but the Army likes to come rape buildings of beds and lockers once people transfer out. A couple days later everyone arrived!

It was 3 AM when 7 of us got up to meet the buses as they arrived at Kuwait Naval Base. We made one last trip through the buildings to ensure beds had linens and each person had enough lockers then we went to the parking lot...and waited...and waited...and waited some more...They finally arrived at about 5 AM, after we were told they would be leaving at about 2:45...lucky us. :) They arrived just in time for breakfast, but since they were all 11 hours behind all they wanted to do was sleep! Some guys were able to tough it out based on the minimal sleep they could get on the plane, while other guys just made their beds and crashed.

After the first day, the next couple days included indoc briefs and area familiarization, on and off base for some people. The good news was everyone made it. The bad news was that they only had 4 days to get the hang of everything because we were taking over! There was very little turnover time between the rest of the guys and the outgoing unit, but luckily for me fixing boats is fixing boats no matter where it is or who was doing it before you...

That should be enough boring details for this week. Next week I'll get into more of the cell phone company ordeal and driver's licenses...my two favorite subjects for the last two months! I may even throw in a caching experience or two. Hopefully by the end of next week's tale I will be caught up to present and the story won't be so long and boring!

See everyone next week...(now where is my alarm?) ;)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tom's Takeover Tuesday - 3/15: Triumphant Return from Kuwait!

What is this?! A blog from Tom on Tuesday?! This can't be...he vanished off the face of the earth!

I assure you, I am alive, I have revived the blog takeover (not that Lynette uses it anymore, :p) and I will be keeping you abreast as well as possible while I do what I do in the desert.

Where to begin? Since my birthday, as I mentioned, I was going in and out of Everett in preparation for the deployment and to make some money since my unemployment benefits had run out. I was activated in mid-September and the journey to Kuwait began. I was in the middle of the kids' 65 day caching streak and about 18 days shy of 300 straight days for Lynette and I before I was sent to NJ where all caching seemed to stop! NJ was 32 days of interesting weather patterns, HWMMV driving, and lack of reliable communication with the outside world.

After that I got about two weeks in Everett before the rest of the crew got activated for us to go to San Diego for 6 weeks. The trip in terms of being a trip was fine, the weather was nice, I got to spend Thanksgiving with Lynette's aunt and uncle, I got a nice room to myself with a decent view of the bay in San Diego, and did I mention the weather was nice? :p I was able to do a little caching there as well, to include my first out-of-state FTF! I just can't get enough of those. ;)

After coming home from San Diego it was time for Christmas and some much needed R&R before the main body of the crew took their journey to NJ. Their experience was far different than ours...it included 8" of snow on their second day and an approximate combined total of 8' of snow in there 32 days...NO THANK YOU! While the crew was in NJ, those of us who had already gone were making our arrangements to leave for Kuwait and tie up any loose ends.

We left in the last week of January. Our flight plan included a direct flight from Sea-Tac to Amsterdam. In Amsterdam we had an 8 hour layover, which meant we could leave the airport if we so desired before our next flight. I took the opportunity, and initially 7 guys, to geocache in a foreign country for the first time! I had loaded some caches in the trusty Garmin before we left home and we made the trek to the "closest" one. A cache 2.7 miles from the airport ended up being a 6 mile one way hike and a short train ride back to the airport just in time to get some food and get on our next plane to Bahrain/Kuwait.

We made a short stop in Bahrain to drop off a few people and pick up a few more before heading to Kuwait. We arrived at roughly 12:45 AM where the folks we relieved were waiting patiently and eagerly for us to get our luggage through customs. The car ride from the airport was about 45 minutes so by the time it was all said and done it was about 3:30 AM when we finally arrived at Kuwait Naval Base, home for the next ??? months!

The first week and a half was all about turnover and inventories and area familiarization. It was just 10 of us, and by the time week one was over we were ready for the rest of the guys to arrive and the outgoing guys to go out!

That is where I will leave for now...it's 10:15 PM here and I just had to make a bunch of phone calls back to the States in the middle of writing this. Tune in next week for the next portion of this now 7 month old story. :D