24 April 2009

Credit where it's due

I'm chilling with Higher on the Big Base, waiting for a ride home to FOB McSleepy. It cannot come soon enough.

Like any decent NCO, Higher annoys the bejesus out of me. Silly requests, weird preoccupations with suspenses imposed by battalion, etc etc. But once in a while, they do something very clever and I must, alas, give them their due.

The Higher compound has, of course, porta-jons.

They are always very nice, due to the fact that we don't have many soldiers and none of them are inclined to act like savages in the green closets. But the truly wonderful thing about these porta-jons is up on top. Look closely. No, I'm not talking about the shade (although that's nice).

That's a light bar. They flip it on at dusk, and so one's nighttime trip to the closet is never dark and scary. No flashlight needed, no godawful surprises.

It's simply brilliant. One of the little things that takes a porta-john from godawful to not bad at all.

22 April 2009

Book reports

Remember a while back when I asked you all for some reading recommendations? I did follow up, and ordered a couple off the list.

I read Young Rissa, and while I enjoyed it quite a bit, it was a long wait for a short read, and I haven't bothered ordering the next in the series yet. Cool character, though. I'll get around to the others at some point.

The one I really ended up diving into was the 1632/Ring of Fire series. These are a fun read, dense and meaty. Recurring characters, and overarching plot...good stuff. Fabulous travel reads, since one probably isn't going to get through one on a single plane ride.

And of course that series reminded me of Harry Turtledove. I'd read the Pearl Harbor pair, then a buddy over here reminded me about him and recommended The Guns of the South. I found that to be a pretty interesting read (mostly what came after the war), and so picked up the first couple in the Great War series while was home.

I'm going to keep working on the list, this next time with a focus on some of the cop and detective stuff I saw there.

21 April 2009

Why I'm not a morning person

I woke up at 0530 after what passed for the best night's sleep since I got to Camp Waitin' Around. Hmm, I thought, what I need right now is a big scoop of powdered eggs and some Army coffee.

So that's what I did. Fortunately, the chowhall here is one of those places you can go wearing PT gear, since I've sworn off long pants for the duration of the waiting around phase here.

I ate, had a smoke, then realized I had time before our next organized standing-around and trooped over to the internet point. The internet point is, of course, a trailer. With the requisite slightly beaten-down wooden pallet in front of the door. I stepped on it to step up, and my right foot went through between two semi-broken slats.

We can see where this is going, right?

My foot would not come out.

It's hard to look dignified trying to free your foot from a pallet without toppling over. A nice young sergeant came to my rescue and offered me a shoulder so I could get good yanking leverage. Foot came out, shoe did't, but I managed to extract it.

Fortunately, folks, Your Author is not abnormally attached to her sense of dignity. If this is a sign about how today is going to go, I'm not sure exactly what it means. We'll see.

Killing time

So of course, as I was in the DFW airport, waiting to leave, I fired up my laptop. Except it didn't exactly fire up. In fact, I got a snarky little message about how it had failed to start.


The problem seemed to fix itself rather rapidly. But still - I'm a mobile modern gal - my life is on my laptop. So - backup time!

I hit the PX in search of a protable hard drive. They had one, so I bought it and took it to my tent. Where I realized it had that godawful clamshell packaging and that I, like a good soldier, had left EVERY SINGLE ONE of my myriad knives in Iraq, rather than deal with customs.

I had a key. Which did not cut the proverbial mustard.

I sat. I fumed. Then I remember - Uncle D, one of the recovering Marines in my life, had sent one of his Ka-Bars from his Med float days.

Clamshell Packaging Of Satan, meet Old Combat Knife.

Heh. Win.

I felt even MORE victorius when I realized that the hard drive fit perfectly into my trusty old little Otter Box.

It's the little things, folks. Now if I could just get out of this country.

Camp Sittin' Around

You know, there are some people who spend their entire tours in
Kuwait. I occasionally wonder if those are Soldiers who were ASSIGNED
to this country, or whose travel just got delayed long enough that the
Army put them to work here.

I'm actually not suffering any sort of maltreatment or major delay,
but once one arrives here, one is shuffled into a process of
twice-daily formations to be told if one has a time at which to
report, with all gear, for a flight.

We all assembled this morning, lined up behind blue and white signs
with major destinations printed on them. Our group was approached

The troop handler (who had a soft, high, mumbling voice that increases
my suspicion she was not selected for the job so much as randomly
given it when someone noticed she'd been hanging out here for two
weeks) read off the last four of each of our social security numbers.

"Here!" we replied in turn, fairly enthusiastic. Perhaps, we hoped,
we were being called first because we have a TIME.

"You all come back in twelve hours. No gear necessary."


20 April 2009


The flight back to theater from leave is worse than the original flight to the deployment.  No matter who you are, how much you like your job, you really, really don´t want to be on that plane.  It gets better each leg, but that first jump out from leave...well, it´s a quiet damn bird.
On a good note, my leave fell late enough in the deployment that it is all downhill from here.