Working at this job offers me a wealth of experience. Since the day I started working here I can honestly admit that I have performed a multitude of tasks that I thought I’d never do only a few months ago.
Today, I broadened my horizons by performing a rebuild on a Compaq N610c laptop using parts cannibalized from two others. Three months ago I was deathly afraid of even loosening the screws on a laptop. Today I’m more concerned about robbing the broken to fix the not-so-broken, since parts replacement is a sensitive issue here.
My old job was in Long Distance Network Translations and I sat at a desk in a climate controlled office. In the past two months I have learned to run cable outdoors, in the rain, while crawling under a building through the mud. I have learned to put up 2 2.4 meter satellite dishes and one 3.8 meter dish. My skill-set is regularly broadened with the programming of various types of Cisco Switches and Routers.
I have learned how to install, from the ground up, a Nortel Meridian Norstar PBX (no big feat that, but I’d never done it before). I have learned to program said PBX – again, no big thing.
I have become a pirate of the highest quality, locating and acquiring parts and tools from the unlikeliest of places. In fact, today I received an Operation Iraqi Freedom cap with a Jolly Roger affixed to the front panel for my skills in piracy in support of the team.
I’m learning the fine art of building a network from the ground up, not having had any previous experience I am learning, the hard way, all the things that I need to make a proper job of a start-up network.
When I leave here in a year or three, I can’t imagine what my résumé will look like.
Due to the fact that I don’t know who is reading this blog, and I know that some wives of contractors are, I’m going to keep this one vague, deliberately.
I talked to a guy by the name of Robert, with Red Sea Housing, this afternoon. He was telling me that he’d just returned from another site where, overnight, there were 101 mortar attacks against the camp. Throughout the night there were firefights between the military and insurgents (believed to be Sunni). He returned at first light this morning, without incident, other than lost sleep.
I’m thankful that I’m not there, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the people that are there.
Today was a slow day in the IT world for me, so I offered my time to the site manager. He asked me to escort the host country labor manager, Mr. Hussein, around the base on his many errands. When Mr. Hussein wishes to move the Army requires that he be accompanied by a soldier and a civilian contractor, so I agreed.
We left the camp to take a dump truck off the airport and then go to another camp to check on the progress with septic tanks. After dropping off a few welders and a crane so that the work on the tanks could be done at the other camp, we turned back to our primary work site, by way of the checkpoint to pick up a sand truck.
At the checkpoint we were informed that the checkpoint was closed due to the detection, by bomb dogs, of an explosive device five minutes earlier. We were locked down on the airport.
With nothing to do, we turned back to go to the work site, only to find out that the checkpoints allowing entry to the worksite were similarly closed.
It turns out that two dump trucks had been identified by two bomb dogs as containing, or having contained bombs or bomb-making materials. EOD was called in and the trucks were cleared, the drivers however were arrested. I’m not sure about their status this evening, but the trucks were owned by the drivers, and the fact that the dogs sniffed out bomb-making materials, making me think that perhaps the trucks will be at the checkpoint until the Army moves them and the drivers are likely the latest additions to the POW roster.
This afternoon I spent a bit of time thinking about the quantity of explosive load that a dump truck could contain, covered in dirt and camouflaged for a trip onto the airport. The load wouldn’t be a small one, that’s certain.
A sobering thought…
I spent the day out at my construction site. A lot of new stuff has gone in out there, and the construction crew was asking for some support with networking printers, fixing laptop issues, and providing IT support for a third-party plotter. I‘m still working on the plotter, but I think that for the most part the guys out there are happy with the outcome today.
Tomorrow I will be back out there, and those guys maximize use of IT personnel when they get us out there, so I‘m not sure what my night will look like for blogging.
I talked with a few soldiers from the Missouri National Guard/Reserve and they gave me a little more insight into what was going on last night. While the newspapers were simply reporting explosions, the soliders told me that the fighting included Bradleys and at least on M1A1 Abrahms tank.
I may post more later, but right now, I‘ve got to take care of more issues.