Thursday, July 01, 2004


02 July 2004

Past few days have been interesting...not necessarily in a good way. One big boom on Tuesday night had me scampering for my vest and helmet at 1140 pm. I stayed down on the floor for five minutes and went back to bed. See, the sandbags on my side of the trailer are below bed level and offer no protection. Email to the Base Mayor have done no good on changing that. Next morning we had found out that tent 43 or 47 was hit by a mortar. It hit the sandbags on the outside of the tent, so noone was hurt. Just enough to give everyone a scare.

Received a box of all kinds of stuff from Salem Lutheran Church in Peoria too. That is my Uncle and Aunt's church. They had mentioned that I'm mentioned in their prayers. Opening the box was a bit overwhelming. I took out a few things along with the cards and passed the box around building 7 and 8. I was very thoughtful of them to put that all together. The 54th had also received a couple of similar boxes of stuff from groups of people back home, so there was quite a bit of stuff for the taking over the past couple of days.

Thursday morning I got woken up by the sound of choppers flying over the trailer. Not just one or two choppers, but a swarm of them. THey were in the air as thick as mosquitos. Turns out that quite a number of dignitaries were on-hand for the change of command ceremony. General Sanchez is moving on. Ron from the RSC was telling me that he saw Mr. Lieberman and his entourage, among others here at Victory.

Work has been kind of getting me down some. The Army in all of its infinite wisdom, hasn't contracted anyone to do install and engineering (I&E) of their telecom here. They don't have any officers with those skills here either , so now the officers they do have (supply, office management) throw the responsibilities at us and tell us that it is now our job to do this.

Flash back six months now to when we first arrived. Shane, our site supervisor at the time, is giving a speech. "We are *not* install and engineering. Our contract says that we are operations and maintenance (O&M)." Well, that stance was short-lived. I guess the only time a contract defining responsibilities makes any difference to the Army is when you aren't providing the Army with what they want. Otherwise, you will wash floors on your hands and knees if that is how they interpret the contract.

Add to that, the power problems supplying the communications facilities and the a/c problems in the TCF. Noone ever is proactive and thinks about prevention. Noone cares. The only time they do care is when things go down. Then their only concern is bringing it back up. Can't fathom what root cause analysis is! They keep on shoe-horning more equipment into this little room, daisy-chaining more power cords to more multi-plugs and can't figure out why the UPS's crash when we lose generator power. Commercial power can't handle the building load, so it falls back to the ups. The approach here is that we can't possibly be out of power, there are still open and available plugs on the five daisy-chained multi-plugs. So how much load is being drawn across these five outlets? That is the million dinar question.

Same with the A/C. 80 degrees may be comfortable to you and me, but the a/c is here to keep the equipment comfortable and it ain't. The one unit on the wall works when it wants to and the other can't possibly keep things cool enough on its own. It's only when things will start breaking down that everyone will get their undies in a bundle. Part of the problem is that a bunch of cables have been installed through an open window here. Nothing is done to standard here.

Then yesterday, after power was finally restored, problems with network congestion at Doha that somehow is my fault! Is there anything worse than an irate Colonel whose call gets dropped and whose email won't go through and is bounced because of network congestion at the receiving end. About all you can say to him, (or want to say to him) is "yes dear," but you hold your tongue. I checked out my network and all the links are up and clean--no errors! "Can't be, my call was dropped!!! And I am not getting a ring from their side when I redial!!. And my email is't getting through to them. It keeps getting bounced." These users all think that these communications pipes are all as large as sewer pipes! If the bandwidth is smaller than the number of users and uses trying to use it, it is going to be like rush-hour traffic on the highway at 7:30 am. Too many cars going in the same direction is going to slow things down a bit or come to a screaching halt.

There had been some speculation that people are up on the web watching Fox News and the Saddam Hussain trials. That might account for the goo-gobs of bandwidth being used up. And no, goo-gobs is not a technical term. I must like it here. You can only care about these kinds of issues if you like where you're at and what you're doing. I need my head examined!

Speaking of heads to be examined, Saddams trial started Thursday. Didn't hear until the afternoon that it was happening here on Victory. So, maybe that was the meaning of the flock of helo's on Thursday morning. The court house is not all that big on base, but the base is alot more secure than if it would be held at CPA.

After yesterday, I was ready to catch the next C130 home. Some days at work just leave you exhausted and disheartened. Another explosion last night. Rumors of a car bomb going off outside the front gate last night. That would put it about 1/4 mile from my trailer. Randall said that he heard gravel and shrapnel fall on his trailer and described having seen from his trailer door a mushroom shaped cloud rise into the sky under the full moon and an orange glow. He is in Dodge South too. I find it hard to believe it was at the front gate. Probably at the check point if anything since they would have to first go through the check point, then past the Bradley tanks to get that close to the front gate. More likely it was a mortar. That happened around 1120pm and even broke some windows nearby at the General Dynamics building. Supposedly someone was injured by glass there, but no other injuries were spoken of. But, I was fast asleep and didn't hear a thing. I was so tired that I guess I slept through a bomb going off. And you thought that was only a saying.

Post Script: 1620 pm.
Just found out that last nights fireworks were not a car bomb and not a mortar. Apparently, some Iraqi's brought over some 250 anti-tank mines to turn into the Americans for destruction. EOD (ordinance destruction) seemed to have underestimated the possible damage from detonating them. We hear that it isn't unusual for them not to move ordinace that is turned in, but I guess they had a bit more kick than they expected!
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