Thebastidge: Still in one piece
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    ********************Southwest Washington Surplus, your prepping supply store********************

    Saturday, September 23, 2006

    Still in one piece

    So I’ve returned this morning from my first mission outside the Green Zone, or International Zone as they’re calling it now. It went pretty smoothly, a site survey for some work to be accomplished at some future date. I’m not going to give many details of this mission (Jeez, that sounds pretentious. In any other context it would just be a ‘job’) or future missions on this website, because my safety and that of my co-workers depends upon not being too predictable when traveling.

    I was here for about 12 hours when they decided that I would go on my first job. I don’t even have my permanent embassy access badge yet. (I’m in the same compound with the Embassy). We’re not allowed, as mere contractors and therefore 3rd class citizens, to carry weapons in the Embassy compound, so we just draw them on our way to missions. The good news is, they’re brand new Glocks, and not the shite Beretta M9 that the military has to carry. All kitted up in full “battle-rattle” I’m running pretty close to, if not more than 300 pounds, and even though we’re moving into the cool season, it’s still bloody hot, so it doesn’t take much effort to wear you down moving around in all of that. I only really have to wear it when traveling though.

    Speaking of traveling, I absolutely have to get my pilot’s license. Helos are FUN. Dan was right when he talked about going rotary after getting the fixed wing license. On the way here from BIAP, it was a little freaky when somebody lit up the inside of the Blackhawk with a BRIGHT spotlight and followed us for about 10-15 seconds. Then on the way home this morning, some flares popped. 2 or 3 of them went. As basic cargo, we’re not hooked into the intercom system, so we have no idea what is going on during a flight. In fact, there’s minimal conversation ever when getting on the helo. Mostly hand signals telling you which side to get in. So I don’t know what happened, but there are automated systems for ECM purposes which could have popped those flares. Regardless, I almost shit myself thinking of lovely things like the SA-7. A bit of chaff even blew in through the open window and hit me, which made me realize why they require long sleeve shirts and long pants when traveling Blackhawk express.

    I’m in a pretty good mood, and I feel like things are going well. With that preface, my physical status is okay: I’m still jetlagged pretty hard, though having an immediate schedule to require me to get up and be places on time has helped discipline me to the new time zone. My new boots are killing my feet- I have blisters the size of quarters in a couple spots. I tried breaking in my boots bit by bit while I was still in Texas, but that only helped a little. The heat is far worse than El Paso’s uncharacteristically cool weather. It’s not unbearable, but it’s a noticeable drain of energy. My immunizations still have me headache-y and sore. The smallpox shot is fucking nasty- just disgusting. The Anthrax update has mostly subsided to a small lump and distant minor ache.

    Pedro just rolled in, and holy shit, a guy I went with through a year of Korean classes at the DLI back in 1990-91 just walked in.

    Anyway, that pretty much catches me up- stay tuned.


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