Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Bit of This and That

Things have settled down with me now. My little dog Soozee has responded very well to her medications and you would never know that a week and a half ago she nearly died. Her appetite is back, she's going on her walks every morning and evening (a full mile each time), and she's rambunctious around the house. One side effect of the steroid medication is that she has suddenly taken a great interest in humping her sister, Indy. And Indy has gotten sick of it. (Indy has also conveniently forgotten that, when she was first on the same meds 20 months ago, she did the same thing). So Soozee looks like she's going to continue to be a healthy, happy dog.

While Soozee's crisis was going on, life here in Baghdad continued. We're definitely getting into winter now. The temperatures have dropped, with highs in the 50's or low 60's. Definitely jacket weather. It's the rainy season, too, which is no fun at all. When it rains, everything turns to mud. It's a slippery, sticky mud. Most of it is pretty shallow, maybe an inch deep, with hard-packed dirt underneath and this slippery goop on top. The only shoes to wear in this mess are Army boots. You need something high-rise with deep chunky treads on the bottom, and Army boots are it.

This is the DFAC parking lot. Imagine having to shlep through this every time you wanted to go eat. And imagine having to walk a half mile along a busy, muddy road before getting to this parking lot. And then having to walk back. Sounds like fun, huh? It does? You're sick. We carpool.
And here's a typical Victory Base drive in the rain. This road may or may not be paved. Doesn't matter, it's got an inch of slippery mud on top regardless, plus big ol' puddles and potholes and ditches scattered randomly around.
I've made an interesting discovery about the military postal system. I've got a subscription to Time magazine, but over the past two months, I've only gotten about a third of them. Who knows where the rest go. But you know what does make it to me? Their renewal notices. Haven't missed a one.
We have the most complicated timesheets to fill out that I've ever seen. When I was in the Navy, of course, we didn't do it at all, but in the civilian world, you have to account for every minute. I don't know about you, but just filling out a basic timesheet makes me feel like I'm working at McDonald's as a shift worker. In my current job, it's even more complicated, because I have to account for the time spent on different projects so that my time can be billed against them. Very much like a lawyer's "billable hours", only lawyers aren't as high on the status ladder as McDonald's shift workers. But somebody here has a sense of humor. Our timesheets are called "Time and Attendance" reports, or T&A forms, for short. 'Nuff said.
Our internet has been really bad in the rooms lately. I keep hearing rumors that they're going to upgrade the servers and fix all the problems, but we'll see. We've been having issues in getting our computers, which we brought with us from our old office, to work with the systems here in this new office. Ever notice how IT techs always seem to hold all other IT techs in contempt? A typical conversation:
Me: "Well, the tech came by and said he saved the pst file to my hard drive."
Tech: (snort) "Who was it?"
Me: "Joe."
Tech: (eyes roll, disgusted tone in voice) "Oh, well, that explains it. WE do it the right way, those guys don't know what they're doing." And he proceeds to spend 10 minutes changing files around on my computer. He leaves, I reboot, and now my email doesn't work at all. It's Joe's fault, of course.
The Armed Forces Network shows news programs from all the reputable networks, plus Fox. I've noticed that CNN puts up the BREAKING NEWS banner at random intervals. Now BREAKING NEWS to me means that something big is happening, like Nancy Pelosi just got caught in bed with Rush Limbaugh. But no, evidently CNN thinks BREAKING NEWS applies to an Anderson Cooper interview with a B-list movie actor I never heard of. Most annoying - I get all excited thinking something important is going on, and it's just Anderson. Again.
Fox seems to have a policy that 75% of its anchors and reporters must be blonde babes. I don't complain too much, as long as the volume is turned off. But they have this need to justify the blonde babe's existence on the screen, besides just being eye candy, so they'll say something like "Jane Doe, PhD". Well, I can put a lot of letters behind my name, and as my wife will tell you, that doesn't mean squat. Why don't they just be honest? "Jane Doe, Hot Chick".
And that's the way it is, Tuesday, November 24th. Good night.

- Skip Rohde, CDR, USN (RET), CD PgM, BSME, MBA, BFA, SoB

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