Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Little This 'n' That

I just got back from dinner at Taco Bell. Yeah, I hear some of you out there making gagging sounds, but sometimes you just gotta have something that's NOT FROM THE DFAC. Doesn't matter what it is. It could be old shoe leather wrapped in a Stars and Stripes newspaper and you'd think it was the greatest thing in the world. Hey, it didn't come from the DFAC, it has to be good!

Our DFAC recently won some sort of award. None of us can figure out why. It has essentially no variety whatsoever. If it's Tuesday, you know what they're serving: the same thing they served last Tuesday, and the Tuesday before that, and the third Tuesday from now as well. As for quality, well, it's really not bad, but after a while, the same ol' same ol' kinda tastes the same ol'. Right before Thanksgiving, they actually decorated the place a bit. They hung yellow and orange and brown streamers from the ceiling and taped up cardboard cutouts of pilgrims and turkeys on the wall. Up front, they set up a scene with several plaster of paris figures that looked amazingly like inflatable dolls dressed in plaster pilgrim and indian outfits. They also, inexplicably, put up a 10' high, 20' wide styrofoam model of the front of the White House. Even the people that work there don't know why.

The internet in our rooms is pretty much unusable now. If I try to go online from there, I literally get a book or a magazine to read while the pages load. The reason for the slowness is that the barracks only have a certain amount of bandwidth, and over the past few months, we've moved more and more people into the barracks as we downsized and centralized things, and everybody has a computer nowadays, so there we are. We probably won't get any more bandwidth since it's so frickin' expensive. So I go to my office in the evening, like now, and use my computer at work. Just what I wanted to do in the evening: spend even MORE time at my desk!

We haven't had any rain in a couple of weeks now, which is a good thing. Any time it rains, it takes at least five days for the mud to dry out. Walking on concrete-hard dirt is much easier than walking on slippery goo.

Despite my griping about the DFAC, the internet, and the mud, I have to say that I really love what I'm doing at work now. I'm convinced that I have the coolest job in the entire command. After months of work, two of my projects will finally go out for bids from contractors in the next couple of weeks. Both of them are projects to provide training to Iraqis all around the country in things like equipment maintenance, urban planning, construction management, facilities management, and several other areas. The Iraqis, at the worker level, are showing more interest in learning how to do these things for themselves. I've got three more projects in the development stage to create detailed plans for some critically needed services in one city, economic growth in another province, and a significant improvement to a large university. Not only are these important projects in their own right, but the Iraqis involved, from the provincial governor on down, are excited and anxious about them as well. To me, that's critical: what good is a master plan if the people you're giving it to just put it on the shelf? But it doesn't appear that's going to happen. Not only do they want the master plan, they want to be actively involved in putting it together. That's some serious buy-in.

1 comment:

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 12/07/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.