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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…)

November 2004 Dubai Trip Part II

Sunday, November 28th, 2004

8 Clicks and A World Away

As it turns out, there is a bird out the next morning. Poor George has been waiting for days, whereas I am lucky enough to get nice day service. A small bright spot in an otherwise FUBARed trip. The travel babysitter always recognizes me and remembers my name, which is vaguely non-John Smith and has been in the news, though not lately. She used to work in Billeting. I am assuming she caught on the name thing, instead of me making a really bad impression. Of course, she’s polite enough, so I could have somehow made a good impression too, being as I am so uber-cool, it’s indescribable. Or at least some people think that. I call them crazy. I don’t even believe that shit. (more…)

November 2004 Dubai Trip Part I

Wednesday, November 24th, 2004

Hey Man, It’s Like A War or Something!

Mosul Palace

Woohoo! Time to get out for a bit again, and go to Dubai for a few days. It’s been in planning for many weeks now. As it turns out, my timing has put it into a very busy time. Oops. It will be nice, since things have been rather active here since the start of Ramadan, whereas before you’d get an attack just at the end of the call to prayer as if to punctuate it with a concussive and shrapnel filled “amen.” I’d comment on the etymology of “amen” but that would be digressing even farther than usual for me. Also, I may have used the word describing the study of bugs instead of word origins there. I don’t feel like looking it up though. Where was I?

Oh yes, anyways, during Ramadan we got hit several times a day. Before, it was just harassment fire. Then I think they started trying to kill people. Very ill-mannered of them.

And then Fallujah kicked off. (more…)

Back At The Palace

Sunday, November 14th, 2004

More later. I will relate a short funny thing though: I was reading something on how dangerous Mosul was now, and thinking to myself, “Ha ha, if they only kneBAAAAAMMMMM!!!!!! I was halfway out the door when I realized that was the controlled blast we’d been warned of, and about 1 second later “controlled blast, controlled blast” comes over the radio. It was to take care of a UXO about 150m away. They must have packed that thing with about 8 lbs of C-4. At least I wasn’t the guy who was on the shitter. Been there, done that. We had a laugh about it. Beats the alternatives.

Anyway, the LWOP was a bust, I’m very disappointed by that. But we’ll see each other soon. I might leave here a bit earlier, depending on my cash goals. It’s only 7 weeks, but thinking about dropping it down to say, 4 is an attractive option.

So Much For That

Saturday, November 13th, 2004

I’m at what you might refer to as a low point right now. I was supposed to be leaving for Dubai to spend a few days with the love of my life, but they have some new idiotic visa rule that prevents that. So we changed plans to try Turkey instead. Some other visa problem rears it’s ugly head so they have to get them in advance instead of gratuitous visa on arrival. It all boils down to needing several extra days and / or significant cost increase. So in the end I just aborted this trip. It sucks because I was already in motion, and had spent some effort, not to mention some money, on the Turkey option in a brilliant masterstroke of making do. I’m going to go back to the Palace now. This really sucks. But I’m down to about only 7 weeks before giving up on this for my long break anyway. I’m still pretty heavily weighted down by disappointment.

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