Thursday, April 06, 2006

Let’s Give a Big Manson Family Welcome-Back To…

05 April 2006

I know it sounds a bit odd, but today was a homecoming of sorts for one of my former coworkers who is once again a current coworker here. Like so many others, Allen has chosen to come back to the “fold” so to speak. Ahh, yes, another member of the Manson Family come back home!

Allen was our Tech Control lead when I first got to Victory way, way back in Feb of ’04 and then he migrated to the RSC as it was known then. I migrated over to the RSC/NSC/NOSC/TNOSC (or whatever we’re to be called this week!) following his departure back in April of ’05. It is nice to see all the returnees again, but now I guess it is my turn to disappear but hopefully to not return. Y’know, we used to have a saying when I was a contractor in Antarctica…The first time you come down for the adventure, the second time for the money and the third time because you don’t fit in anywhere else! Are contractors all that strange of a breed? That was a rhetorical question so please don’t answer that, okay?

We had about an inch of rain three days ago. Seems to me a bit late in the season for so much rain. I don’t remember the past two springs being anywhere near as wet this late. But then again, this year we didn’t have any reoccurrence of our “Venice in Baghdad” with the living areas in 6 inches of water like last year. I’m still kind of flipped out at the mud. Working at home in the garden is one thing; you expect to be muddy working in the yard. But here you have no landscaping, no escape from the mud; you can’t go anywhere here without blinking and ending up in the middle of what you thought was dry ground. At least in Kuwait the ground has more sand.

I guess the good thing about the rains are that the date palms are now all loaded with their strings of baby dates. Dates used to be Iraq’s second largest export after oil And with the dates starting you get all those huge bumble bees (like the size of your thumb, huge) that hang around the date palms swarming. I haven’t heard of anyone getting stung by them, but I never was one to freak out too much about bees or wasps. They are larger than even the big yellow jackets back home and kind of interesting to watch. They are too busy to worry about you, so just walk past them and they are fine.

We have visitors here from the civilized world. They are here to introduce or reintroduce themselves to us (since you are unimportant anyway and they’ve forgotten your face and name from the last time they were here a month ago) and reassure the customer that things will continue to hum along like normal after XX% of the workforce changes over at contract end (because the contract offered the peasants was an insult to their intelligence.) Suffice to say that I’m not alone by any stretch of the imagination, in choosing to go home or in many cases to pursue other jobs with other companies over here at the end of contract.

Rest assured that even if offered less by the government for their services, corporate’s bottom line wasn’t even scratched (sorry, bad coincidental choice of words). But in the minds of said corporate cogs, this is now a civilized and unthreatening place to work, don’t-cha-know. After thorough corporate consideration, I am sure the determination was made that with fewer mortar attacks and only periodic “celebratory” weapons fire and bullets flying in the air, we’ve been reclassified these days only as a television impaired zone vice a “war zone”…mostly because we still don’t get live broadcasts of “Deal, No Deal”. Now tell me, shouldn’t that be enough to warrant some kind of deprivation pay?

With my imminent departure you can imagine that I’m feverously trying to finish my AAFES pog collection (http://www.aafespogs.com). In case you’re not familiar with pogs, they take the place of our pocket change here. With the weight and security issues of transporting cash, it is much more efficient to use pogs instead of trying to import pocket change into a war zone. Thus, in trying to keep costs down AAFES uses pogs which they lovingly call AAFES “Gift Certificates.”

If you go up on the site, you’ll see that the pogs have all different kinds of pictures on them. Some of my favorites are the WWII ones and the early pics of our former presidents when they were military members. Then again, I also kind of like the ones dedicated to our working animals like the dolphin with the small camera on its flipper and several acknowledging the working dogs of the military.

Oddly enough, it seems that just as I get close to completing my collection of one printing, they introduce another set. Suppose I could go up on Ebay and buy what I need, but that takes the fun out of it. The 2006A’s (8th printing) are now out so we’ll see if I can finish finding the new set along with the five nickels I need from the 2005 (sixth printing) and the five dimes I still need from the 2004 (2nd printing) before I bug out of here. I’ve also been fortunate to make friends with some of the coffee shop guys and they have been trading me some of the Brit pogs as well. What can I say? I’m an old frustrated stamp collector who thought that the urge would pass when I sold off my stamp collection in desperation for cash back in ’87!
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