Friday, August 21, 2009

Livin' at Victory

I'm settled into my new home at Victory Base. I've got my barracks room slummed out so it's comfortable and have my desk at work arranged just so ... meaning papers all over the place, a coffee cup that needs to be washed, half-empty bottle of water, and a chair set to just the right height. So all is well, no?

No. All my email files disappeared in the move. Four months worth of records just *poof* went away. The same thing happened with about half of the people I've talked to as well. Some of them had records that went back several years. At the old compound, we all used a shared drive. It was supposed to migrate into our new network. Well, something migrated, but what we have now is not what we had then. Looks like some things made it, some didn't, and file names and structures were randomly changed. So we can't find the things we need. And to further muck it up, it looks like all the files done between July 22 to Aug 18 were dumped. We're talking nearly a month's worth of work for over a hundred people, gone.

So the IT guys are not very popular right about now.

Life at Victory is very different than life in the IZ. There, we were in small compounds crammed into a city environment. We had lots of trees and paved streets and sidewalks. Didn't have to walk very far - the commute from my hooch to my desk was (by actual measurement) 1 minute 33 seconds. Being at Victory, though, is like being plopped down in the Arizona desert. It's flat, no trees, gravel roads and gravel walks. Dust everywhere. Everything is spread out, so we have 10-15 minute walks to get anywhere. The sun is brutal. I never had to wear my hat in the IZ, but it's always on my head here. And this past week has been hot. Most days have been 120 or above. It's like walking around in an oven and is enough to literally take your breath away. At least it does mine.

I don't have a short commute anymore. Our workplace is several miles from the barracks, so we have to ride our own special bus. It picks us up at 7 am and returns to the barracks at either 6, 7, or 9 pm. I'm not a fan of being tied to somebody else's schedule but don't have any say in the matter.

Seems like every place in Iraq is staffed with people from a different place in the world. At the Embassy, most of the guards were Peruvian, so I used my extremely limited Spanish with them. At our last compound, we had a lot of Iraqis, so I learned some Arabic. Here, we have a lot of Indians and Ugandans. So now I'm learning some Swahili. It's kinda cool, really.

I've had a hard time trying to post to this blog since arriving here. Our internet server in the barracks has been overloaded with all the new people coming in, and it crashes at about 8-9 pm most nights. Very frustrating. Last night I saw some of our IT guys helping to get it back up. That may be the kiss of death!

One last thought. Two days ago there were two huge truck bombs in Baghdad that destroyed the Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Finance buildings and killed about a hundred people. The Foreign Ministry was adjacent to, but outside, the IZ. I hear that the concussion broke some windows in our old compound. So despite all my gripes, I'm glad to be away from the IZ and living here at Victory.

So that's my first impression of the first week and a half here at my new home. Hopefully, they'll fix our server and I'll be able to post a bit more often. Until then, siku njema! (Means "have a good day!")


  1. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/21/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  2. I don't know Skip, this sounds like a good trade to me...The desert, some Swahili lessons and forced exercise in a sauna/tanning bed as you move to and from work. This being traded for a hostile envirnonment where there are tons of explosives being allowed through alledgedly secured checkpoints! Arrrghhghgh ~ Glad you are safe ~