I’m actually typing this entry using the keyboard attached to my Linux box! After being gone for more than 1 year (w/the exception of two weeks leave last summer), I’m finally back home. Unlike when I came home for leave, I don’t have to worry about squeezing everything I want to do into a two week time frame. Now I just have to worry about getting my life back on track. For the past year I didn’t have to worry about what I was gonna do the next day. If I ever wasn’t sure, I could just ask somebody as the Army had my days pretty well planned out. Now I actually have to be responsible for myself again. It’s good to be a civilian.
1 more day to go! That’s right, tomorrow morning we’ll be leaving Ft. Dix, NJ and heading westward. After a breif stop in Indiana, we’ll on our way to Michigan. In about 30 hours or less I should be in my home state! I can hardly wait.
America, here I am at last. I actually got in a couple days ago (approx. 6am on Saturday), but I just haven’t gotten around to posting that here yet. Out-processing takes about 6 days and we’ll be starting that tomorrow. So, I should be actually home really soon. I’d like get rolling on Bugzilla Documentation reviews and such, but I’m not sure how much time I’m going to have here at Fort Dix, NJ during the next week, so those may have to wait until I’m actually at home. Of course, I may be really busy when I actually get there, so I guess that means the whole thing will have to be flexible. But anyway, I am happy to be back in the States.
Recently, my Grandfather passed away. My dad sent a Red Cross notice to me of this event. I received a Red Cross message to this effect roughly 5 hours after my father sent it. My unit told me that they could not send me on emergency leave because the message did not specify that my presence was requested at the funeral and only said that I should call home. They said that if a second message was sent specifically requesting my presence, I would be able to go. I called home and relayed that message to my father. He told me that he did tell the Red Cross that I was wanted at the funeral, but that part didn’t make it to me. He then sent a second message to communicate this request. That message never made it to me (it was sent 72 hours ago). The funeral is tomorrow morning, so there is now no chance of me making it on time.
According to my unit, one possibility as to why I didn’t get the second message (and why I got an incomplete first message) is that the Red Cross determined that I was not close enough to my Grandfather in order to be afforded the opportunity to go on emergency leave. It’s beyond me how they could make that determination having never met my Grandfather nor myself. So instead of being with my family during this time of loss, I’m sitting in Kuwait doing absolutely nothing. That’s right, nothing. Our unit is simply awaiting a flight out so we can finish out-processing in the States. The only thing we have left to do in Kuwait is clear customs… and that can’t be done until just before you get on the plane.
Iraq is now just a memory for me. We flew out of Baghdad and into Kuwait the other night. After sitting here for a couple weeks, we’ll be USA bound. About a week in New Jersey, and it’s on to Fort Living Room. This deployment is almost over, yet for some reason it doesn’t really feel like it is. I suppose amidst all the insanity I’ve put up with over the last year from the Army, this almost just seems like more of the same. Perhaps it will sink in once we finally make it back to the States.
Finally. It seems like it’s been forever, but my replacements are now here and fully trained. So that leaves me in the unemployed category with nothing left to do but pack and get out of here. I can’t say exactly when I’m leaving due to OPSEC, but it is soon. It takes a while to actually get from Iraq to home, but the first step is now done (replacements trained, TOA reached. So, I’ll probably be out of touch for a while. I may get on again before I leave here or from Kuwait, but I also may not… depends on time availability and inclination.
Yesterday was quite a hectic day for me. I had to move all my stuff from the room I’ve lived in for the past 9+ months to one down stairs and one tier over. This actually involved getting rid of a bunch of stuff that I’ve collected. Some of it I mailed home (been working on that over the past month anyway), some I gave away, and some I just threw out. My old room is now completely empty (OK, minus a couple items I still have to sell and a person who I don’t think I can sell). So now I’m living with two people I never really talked to before this move (one of which I never even met, the other I’ve seen maybe a dozen times). We’re all on different sleep schedules. As I type this post, one of my roommates is sleeping. When he’s ready to get up, I’ll be sleeping. When it’s time for me to get up, my other roommate will be in here sleeping. There are a few hours in the morning that don’t have a sleeper in here, but those are while I’m at work. Oh well, guess I’ll either be really quiet for the next month (or so) or I’ll never be in my room.
Visitors to Abu Ghraib aren’t really all that rare. I mean, we get visiting Generals and press members so frequently that sometimes you wonder if they’ve ever really even left. What we don’t get often, however, are famous people. Sure, we’ve had Donald Rumsfeld here last May, but it was a visit by an official. This past August we had Joe Millionaire and the Miller Lite Catfight Girls here, but that still paled in comparison to today. Today’s visitors were: Bradshaw (WWE Wrestler), Al Franken (a comedian), Karri Turner (from JAG), Mark Wills (Country Music Artist), and Darryl Worley (Country Music Artist). As you can see by clicking on the links, I got a chance to have my picture taken with all of them except Karri Turner. I was in line for her autograph/photo-op when time ran out and they had to get on their armored tour bus. While the show was mostly just a consolation prize for being stuck in Iraq during the Christmas season, it was still a nice break from the monotony of prison guard life.
Ya, that’s right. I’m no longer working in the hospital here. As of about two days ago, I was moved out to the camps. Right now I seem to mostly be seeing the negatives. I’d imagine there are positives, but I’m just not sure what they are. One of the biggest negatives is simple that it’s cold out there. I mean, it’s nowhere near as cold as it is back home at this time of the year, but relatively speaking, it’s plenty cold.
Another issue that will actually effect people who aren’t in Iraq is that my offline computer use time has been essentially cut off. I used to bring my laptop with me to work every night. I was able to use it during the early morning hours when the vast majority of the detainees were sleeping (of course, I still had to pay attention to the ward, but it just didn’t require my undivided attention). The work environment, both from a work tempo standpoint and the actual physical environment, just aren’t conductive to being able to do that. It’s also expressly forbidden by the SOP of the camps. So, all this means that those big patch reviews, like the FAQ overhaul (3 times!!) just aren’t as likely to happen as quickly. I still get a day off every week, but I do normally take advantage of that for sleeping. Some of that time will most likely be devoted to doing Bugzilla patches and reviews (mostly docs), but my apparent availability won’t be nearly as high as it recently appeared to be.
It, in this case, is my Internet connection. I’m happy to report that I didn’t loose anything during my downtime in Galaxies. I guess I didn’t realize that I had paid as much maintenance as I actually had. Lucky me. Actually, the connection came back to life a couple days ago, but I didn’t really get a chance to post about the good news.
Speaking of good news, I recently found out that I should be back home before March. While not nearly as good as I thought it was going to be when I first deployed (eg, home right now), it is still better than it could be. The biggest thing, in my mind, that could become an issue is the upcoming elections. This current schedule has us actually leaving Iraq right around the same time the elections are supposed to take place. Hopefully it won’t effect us. We are, after all, not directly related to security “on the street.”