It took me a while to set this up and find out I could do it while at work. It is somewhat difficult to get on the Internet outside of work, so I couldn't do this if I couldn't post at work.
For those of you I haven't been updating, let me catch you up. I arrived in Iraq on 8 May after leaving the US on 3 May (I stopped in Qatar for a few days). The guy I replaced greeted me at the terminal and helped me get settled in. We had a week of overlap, so more than enough time for him to hand the reins over to me. Yes it is hot and dusty here, but you get used to it. I've been told a lot of people develop respiratory problems here, but so far (knock on wood) I haven't had any problems.
Let me run you through a typical day of mine. I wake up at 0530 (military time, it's just easier). I go to the gym to do CrossFit. I love CrossFit because it changes everyday and it kicks my butt. After my workout, I go back to my room to shower and get ready for work. I go to the chow hall (they're called DFACs here; nope, I don't know what that stands for) and grab breakfast. I'll usually get it to go so that I can check e-mail and read intelligence reports while I eat. When I get to my office (I have my own office), I check work and personal e-mail to see if anyone loves me. Then I'll read reports and take care of any hot or quick tasks before going to the daily 0900 wing update. That runs about a half hour and it is back to my office. My meetings vary, but there aren't too many of them. Most of them are on Friday and Saturday, and there is even one on Sunday. Most people work 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week. I work 7 days a week, but I have reduced hours on Saturday and Sunday so it is about equal to 6 days. We are here for the job, so might as well be at work. When I am in my office, I am usually reading messages, fighting the e-mail monster (it exists even here in Iraq), coordinating with people locally or even back in the States, or working on my list of to-do's. There is always plenty to do, so I am keeping busy and time is passing fast. I'll call it a day between 1800-2100, depending on what I have to do and how motivated I am. So that is a day in the life.
A little on the living conditions. When I first got here, I was in what is called a dry CHU (containerized housing unit). It is a roughly 10'x10' room with two bunk beds, two wall lockers, two night stands, and a few other odds and ends. Dry means it doesn't have running water. So I had to walk to another trailer to go to the bathroom and yet another to take a shower. This past weekend though I moved into a wet CHU. I still have my own room, but I share a bathroom with another guy. It is wonderful not having to get dressed and walk outside when I have to go to the bathroom or take a shower. My new CHU also has a single queen-sized bed instead of the bunk beds, only one wall locker but it also has a closet, a desk, and a recliner. It is also much bigger than the other room. I get the better room because of my rank and because I'm here for a year. I'm grateful.
Many of you know that I have been a vegetarian for the past 3+ months. I have been able to maintain it, but it has been difficult. The DFAC near me is small and has limited food choices. I find myself eating too many grilled cheese sandwiches and onion rings. If I drive farther (I have a Ford F-150 to drive around--boo Ford, but yeah I've got my own set of wheels), I can go to a larger DFAC that has more vegetarian options. Still, I'm thinking I may eat vegetarian most of the time but have meat (but never red meat) now and then. I'm concerned about getting enough protein since I don't have access to soy or tofu products here. I figure I need the protein with the workout program I am doing. Separate from the vegetarian issue, the food tastes good and they serve you too much of it. Also, dessert is available at every meal. I need to workout just so I don't gain weight.
There is more I could say but it is dinner time so I'll save it for another post.