Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In the Groove

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get caught up! Holy moly. While I was home having a good time, a lot of people were moving at warp speed here. Some evil trolls were trying to take money from my projects, some were trying to kill them off, some were making changes to the ground rules governing all our projects, a few were just monkeying around, deadlines were adjusted, tempers flared, and a few things actually got done as they were supposed to be done. I've got action items out the wazoo, all of which had to be done yesterday. Or last week.

So what can you do? You just do a triage on everything in the "in" box, pick the ones that need to get done first, and push the others to the back, often with a song-and-dance to try to keep somebody happy. I'll be pulling a lot of late nights for a while. At least it's not permanent - I do know that much.

I went to a meeting at the Embassy yesterday to discuss all my capacity development projects. It was a good meeting and I think we're all, more or less, on the same page. Some of the evil trolls mentioned earlier live and work at the Embassy, but we were all able to make nice and come to agreements on what we really wanted to get done. It was very encouraging, actually. I've spent today in a mad rush to try to answer a lot of issues that were finally decided yesterday (or at least the decision process was set in motion). As a follow-up, we've got a visitor here to work on some key documents with us bright and early tomorrow morning. We'll get that item nailed down by lunch time and we'll be making tracks by mid-afternoon. I'm pretty stoked about it.

Yesterday was the first time that I'd been in the International Zone since we packed up and moved back in July/August. The IZ felt much more like a unfriendly bunker than it used to. There were more checkpoints everywhere, all manned by Iraqi Army or Iraqi police. More heavy armor: one checkpoint had a frickin' tank sitting there, with it's barrel literally right in our faces. When US troops manned the IZ checkpoints, there wasn't that much of a visible presence and we could move in and out pretty quickly. Not now. Traffic is backed up and they search vehicles, even ours. I also noticed that they're using bomb-sniffing dogs, which is a big deal. Iraqis don't like dogs, considering them unclean. The last time I went through an IZ checkpoint, they used these little electronic wands to "sniff" vehicles. The problem with the wands is that they're completely useless. The Iraqis are finally wising up to that, after all these car bombs in the city, and now they're getting more bomb-sniffing dogs. Dogs: good. Wands: bad.

The weather on the east coast is affecting what we do here. We rely on our reach-back capabilities, most of which are in the Washington area, but others scattered across the eastern half of the country. And almost all of them are shut down. So this afternoon I got a frantic call from one of my contacts at the Embassy, needing an important financial report right now. Well, I can't provide it from here anymore, that comes from our reachback, so we'll get it for him tomorrow morning ... oh, wait, there's nobody at reachback today ... uh, bummer, dude.

We're having our own weather considerations here. We got a boatload of rain the other day. One day of rain means five days of mud, so we're on day 3 of mud recovery operations. Two more to go. In the States, you have things like grass and trees and drains that generally get rid of all that water pretty quickly. Not here - there's no real plant life around the base to suck up all that moisture so it sits in the top two inches of this rock-hard dirt and turns it into nasty gray stuff that gets in your boots and pants. Yes, I know, I'm whining. Deal with it!

On the positive side, my body clock seems to be adjusting pretty quickly. I take half a melatonin tablet before going to bed, and then if/when I wake up at 2:30 in the morning, I take the other half. At least, that's what I did the first three or four days. Now it's tapering off and I'm more or less on Baghdad time. I like melatonin. It's a natural chemical that your body produces to put you to sleep anyway, and I don't have any adverse effects like with Ambien - I felt like a zombie after taking that stuff. Might even be able to go off the melatonin tonight. We'll see.

I put in my redeployment package today. "Redeployment" means "going home". I'll be leaving here a little earlier than I'd thought: will be gone the last week in April. The countdown has begun. I've got a lot of work to do before then, but at least the end is in sight.

1 comment:

Kanani said...

Wow, when the cat's away, the mice will play! Sounds pretty crazy, and I know there's much for you to do before you leave.

I've put up a post about poetry today....