Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Blasted Sandstorms!

11 June 2008

All rested up and comfy here at the Crowne Plaza in Kuwait City. Yeah, yeah, I know. I was hoping to have hopped an earlier flight back to reality but THAT didn't happen! I called United from Ali Al Salem and they said that they couldn't change my flight but to go to the airport at 8:30 pm and they could get me on standby. He reassured me that they always have overbookings and I should probably have no probs getting on the Tues flight versus the Wed flight.

Get there and get put on the list and get told to come back at 10:20 once they have a better idea the number of seats available. Got to Starbucks for a coffee, get back and find that the flight has been cancelled. I wasn't as upset or worried at the guy with 15 suitcases and four kids was! But what can you say? Sandstorms for the past two days with wind gusts probably over 50 mph and a plane still stuck in Washington DC and there you go. Unless you're pooping out 777's, what are ya gonna do?

I was actually shocked that I even got out of Baghdad on Monday. You know you're in trouble when you look out your door at 5pm and the air is an amber color. Does air, per se, actually HAVE a color??? Sandstorms do funky and psychedelic things with the color spectrum of light! Anyway, BIAP had no flights in or out on Sat and Sun due to visibility caused by the sandstorms. Monday was better in the morning, but the haze and winds started kicking up by 10am. They were flying some helo ops, so I guess visibility was only restricted at the low altitudes. Still with so much sand and wind, the conditions were less than perfect. But we got out of there.

As soon as we heard that the flight was cancelled, we got down to the hotel counter to get a ride and room. As I've said before, the Crowne Plaza isn't as nice (location wise) as maybe the Hilton, but being only 5-10 minutes from the airport is pretty sweet. They also have two good restaurants and a nice pool and gym. Not a long stay, so it is very acceptable. Nothing makes you sleep like a brick like having 1/2 pound of medium rare dead cow in your stomach at 11:30pm before bed!

Good thing is that I've got a seat all paid for with my name on it on this flight tonight. United said that they were running our flight first at 10:45pm and then the flight from last night at 01:00am. The guy I am hanging with here at the Crowne Plaza is trying for standby again so he will have two opportunities to get out earlier than his Friday night flight.

All for now.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Time For An Update

Holy cow! I hadn't realized that I haven't written in six weeks. Well, here I am in Ali Al Salem, Kuwait going on leave again. Yeah, again. I decided to take a Cisco class (ICND1) and catch a break at home too. Not much interesting has been happening in Iraq, so not too much to write about. It is summer, not much rain and a few more sandstorms than usual, but that's it.

I've been working 72 and 84 hour weeks the past six weeks, so my attention has not exactly been on blogging. But the past few weeks have been back to only 6X12's, so I'd been slowly gaining some sanity back...along with a day off once a week. I've been keeping up with running, even though by the time I'm off at 9am and hit the road at 930am, it's usually at least 92F. Better than waiting to run till when I wake up at 5pm when it's over 100F. My body is acclimated though, so it isn't always as bad as it sounds. It just reduces my mileage to only 2.5 miles instead of the 4.5 I'd like to do.

I'm also planning on a three day trip to AZ to see my Gram and my sister. I didn't go last time I was home in Feb/Mar, so I figured I better go this time. Gram isn't getting any younger at nearly 93, plus I always enjoy my trips to AZ. I'm planning on leaving the day after the class finishes on Sat 20th and coming home on Tuesday. So this trip home is going to be a real whirl-wind tour!

The other thing that has drawn my attention from the blog is that a very good friend of mine was diagnosed with colon cancer three weeks ago. She is only 45 and was pretty devestated. She became a good friend of mine when I was in my freshman year in college and she was a junior in high school. She was a friend of a friend from the church group I hung with. I introduced her to my friend Bob who I grew up with since I was 10 and he was 9. The two have been married for 20-some years and have three kids. She had surgery and then she had complications. The stapler perforated the colon after they removed 14 inches of colon and they had to go back in since she was leaking into her body cavity.

They were saying it was a bit disconcerting to have the hospital room marked as "Toxic" until they got the leak fixed! The docs put a colostomy bag on her for now and she will have to wear it for about 4 months till the colon heals and then they'll remove the bag. The good thing is that when I spoke to her this week and she sounds like herself again. She started back to work this week and was climbing the walls all last week itching to get back to work.

As far as things here in Iraq, it's been rather quiet since Al Sadr called his temporary truce. No telling how long it will last this time. Probably until they can get all their resources in one place for the next attack. Not being funny, only realistic.

I'll try to keep the blog updated more regularly, but when not much happens, it is hard to find stuff to write about. Life around here just seems to just creep along like Groundhog Day or else when things to pop up, everything happens all at once!

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