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Outward Bound: The Palace to Dubai

Saturday, January 15th, 2005

Mosul Palace

I haven’t even left yet, and I’m already a bit irritated. As regards stuff, I’m shipping it, taking it, or trashing it. I have good amounts of the first and last, and too much of the middle. One backpack contains electronic equipment such as my laptop, camera, external hard drive, Ipaq with all their attendant power supplies and cables, in addition to some paperwork type stuff such as my document folder, some small dictionaries, and a networking book. See, I had this idea about not being a totally hedonistic bum, and accomplishing something on such an extended time off. Not a major something, but more of a token something. Anyway, I bet that ends up a dead weight.

My other backpack is the clothes pack. It could be lighter, and also less stuffed. However, it’s my own fault, because I have made wildly differing plans in the climatological sense. Central Asian desert in winter vs. the tropical seas in and about Thailand, where they only understand winter in a theoretical sense, and from wild, unbelievable tales brought back by those with Nordic benefactors. Variety is the spice of life, but the bane of the traveler who totes his own gear. I have a jacket with liner. It’s not cold enough to require the liner here, but I’m gonna wear it because I have nowhere to pack it. It will be good in Uzbekistan, since I went with only short sleeve shirts to help the shirts do double duty. Maybe it will be warm enough in Uz that I can leave it entirely, since the thought of toting a jacket around Thailand is pretty abysmal. (more…)

I’m OK

Tuesday, December 21st, 2004

It hasn’t hit the news yet but I’m sure it will soon. There was a bang over at the other Mosul site. Don’t have much information as of yet, but it sounds ugly.

(Ed. note — this was the suicide bombing of the DFAC over at Marez that killed 22 people. Initial news reports were that it was a mortar/rocket attack but we were listening to the radio traffic and they knew it was something else fairly quickly.)

Had A Scare

Saturday, December 18th, 2004

No shit, this really happened.

So there I was, in our crappy little gym-container because I was too lazy to brave the cold for 10 minutes getting down to the real gym. I could have borrowed a vehicle to go down there, but that’s unbelievably lazy and I can’t lower myself that far. I had just finished my cardio fun and was heading to the bench, thinking about killing myself to the sweet tunes of Jewel, from her early days of music to slit your wrist by. Tears course down from my puffy eyes and drip forlornly to the floor. On the other hand, maybe it was just sweat coming from above my eyes. But that’s not important right now because BANG!

And I’m out the door. That was a strange sounding one, and the fact that the gym container has pretty much no sandbags around it doesn’t thrill me to be there anymore. It was a noise of bang on metal. I come out past the HESCO at the front, smartly remembering from a previous trip that the entrance to this bunker doesn’t seem to be where I want it to be. It is therefore no surprise when I go face-first into a sandbag wall where the bunker entrance most definitely is not. It’s not fair; the other time it was daylight out and I could see. Now it’s 10PM or so and I’ve gone from a lit container into black night. At least the idjits over at the old consulate have had someone with a brain consult them about the fact that being lit up like a Christmas tree is a really bad idea. I’m sure the inaccuracy of our AIF friends would merely result in a cluster of rounds into our AO. Anyway, I blind-man shift over the few feet into the actual entrance in record time and pause to catch my breath, while my nasty sweat condenses and steams in the frigid air, thankfully not currently filled with pieces of metal, tiny and those that ain’t. Contrasted with the anti-brevity of this paragraph, I expect it took no more than 4 seconds from sound to safety. Eventually, nothing happens. I head back into the container, and just as I open the door…

…the second outgoing round goes off. I jump, on account of it’s loud, but I’m comforted by the knowledge that I am not provably insane. I hear and understand what made it sound so strange the first time. This container is of different manufacture than the others, and it has more in common with a tin shack. The noise sort of seemed to slap the walls oddly. This is when I remember the 2200-2400 window for outgoing. I take great relief and humor in my own stupidity, and now you can too!

Of course, they didn’t fire off again til I was in the shower.

Things That Make You Go…

Tuesday, December 14th, 2004

…gotta go! Smile

Apparently a taxi 75m out the gate was in the wrong place at the wrong time. 107mm does a number on the bodywork. These went over us on the way through I think. Not very far over though.

Same As It Ever Was Part II

Friday, December 3rd, 2004

We had several close ones yesterday. I recall on the first one, which was not very far away, hearing the boom, grabbing the radio and starting to move, saying “that didn’t sound like outgoing…” and when #2 hit in the same general not very far away “twasn’t!” and sprinting for the bunker. #3 hit with an odd extra something to it as we slid into the bunker. We kind of looked around at each other, wondering what that was. Whatever it was, it was really close. I don’t recall anything interesting about #4 though it was still in the vicinity. While Opsguy was taking accountability, I responded for him on one of the subcontractor radios. The subcontractor guy is someone that no one likes, on account of he’s a major weasel. No offense to any weasels, of course. It doesn’t help that his last name is Anal. No, that just doesn’t work out to his benefit at all.

Anyway, he babbles out that one hit the t-wall production area, which is 30m away from the office, and maybe 25ish meters from my container. Thank Jeebus for the t-walls between us and there, huh? I told him to try and get accountability for his people but stay hunkered down. He was a little panicked at the time, but that’s forgivable. Luckily, maybe even amazingly, no one was hurt in this. (more…)

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