Monday, January 16, 2006

Urbane Developement

17 January 2006

I can't believe how quickly time is passing lately. Lots of stuff going on. As you know, two weeks ago we had a bunch of rain. It was the usual slogging around through knee-deep mud and puddles that resembled chocolate shakes more than standing water. Finally on Wednesday of last week, just as things were starting to dry out some, we got it again.

Thank goodness, I was off on Wed night. So as I'm all curled up in my warm covers, I am hearing the rain pitter pattering off my roof at a steady pace. Then around 7:30, the rain just started to come down in buckets. We even had hail. Any thoughts of putting the boots away definitely faded at that point. I half expected to walk out of the trailer when the rain stopped around 10pm to see another episode of "Baghdad in Venice." It wasn't quite that bad, but it was more of the usual mud and larger deeper chocolate shake puddles.

Going to the showers and even the bathroom trailers was downright dangerous when you start coating muliple layers of mud and water onto the decking type steps leading into the bathrooms. Someone must have fallen and cracked their skull at the entrance to the bathrooms because KBR was putting light bulbs back into the fixtures above all the bathroom and shower trailer doors.

I guess that I should mention that we haven't had lights allowed on base since sometime last year when it was decided that the lighting was making it too easy for the insurgents to aim mortars at the base. Just as they had gotten the street lighting on the base in working order, we took a bunch of mortars and rockets back in April of 2004. Since that time, it has been pretty much been a lights-out dictate at night.

Then the following day, KBR started to create crushed-stone land bridges from the living trailers to the bathroom trailers so that we could get around somewhat above the water. I guess now we know how the woolly mammoths must have felt coming across the Aluetian Island land bridge from Siberia.

Now two days ago, KBR has started some project to remove all the Hassco barriers around the trailers starting with the K-row area. (Yes, that's K-row like the town in southern Illinois next to Metropolis, not to be confused with the city in Egypt spelled the same but always mispronounced as K eye row.) These Hassco barriers were put in place around the trailers to prevent against all the lateral damage from shrapnel when we have taken mortar hits. They are about 4-1/2 feet tall by wide by long with an open top shaped with a smaller gauge wire than a cyclone fence and have a fiber cloth type liner to hold dirt and sand in place.

So anyway, the front-loaders just came one morning and started to clear these bad-boys away to start replacing them with more permanent 12 foot tall blast walls. Not a bad idea, but when you're a night-shifter, you tend to enjoy sleeping during the daylight hours. To say the least, I didn't get but about three hours of sleep because of all the truck traffic right outside my door...literally. I'd have been road-kill that morning if I got up to take a wiz!

I had front-loaders and cranes and all kinds of noisy highway traffic just feet outside my door. Naturally, to remove the Hassco's outside my trailer, they had to remove all the steps to the doors. After I finally fell asleep, they finished grading the area and placed the steps back in front of the door. What I wasn't expecting is that my steps were sitting just a bit too high and they were blocking the door.

There I am, a prisoner in my own trailer. Couldn't get out. I was able to get the door open two inches and stuck my hand out and started yelling help!!

Finally a couple of KBR guys came over and took the steps away. They had to lower the level of the dirt and then put the steps back. Good thing I woke up when I did, or I would have not been able to get out. And I don't have an Iraqna phone to call anyone either, and my roommate is gone permanently back to Kuwait. It could have been ugly.

I took some pictures today of the new and improved neighborhood. Quite the urban developement project. Then again, I can always remember my friend Rachel's comments about her husband Bob's endeavors in buying crappy little condos and rehabbing them to sell for a sometimes measly profit. She equated his efforts to something up the line of "polishing a turd." I kind of think that is all we are doing here. No matter how pretty you make it look, it will still be a turd.
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