Sunday, April 29, 2007

29 April 2007

Good News! The firm I work for, was awarded a renewal of the contract to provide computer services here in Iraq (and South-West Asia). I always knew that they would get a renewal. The old contract actually expired, and UNISYS was paying us on an interim authorization. Anyway, the way is now cleared for me to ask for a third year on this project.

I like Iraq, and I like this project, and my firm has always treated me fair and square. I have no real problem here. I would like to return to my old duty station at Al Asad Air Base. Forward Operating Base Sykes is not bad. I have a decent trailer, unlimited shower time, the chow hall is excellent (they are still not serving eggs, and it may be a long time before they do!). The Rec Hall is decent, and most of the Army people treat me all right.

I am a little disappointed, that the Logistics section, where my office is, has restricted me from using their break room. What does the Army care, if I hang out there and watch their Television? I have a secret clearance, and even though I am not a soldier, I am here on Army business. We are all part of the same family, whether I wear a uniform or not. I am disappointed.

Summer is coming. This morning, the wind was blowing so fiercely, that it blew my door open to the trailer. I had to wrap myself up, to walk to the shower house. I picked up my laundry, and walked down to the chow hall. I did not have much appetite for a big breakfast, so I got some juice, milk, coffee and yogurt. Lunch is at 1130, I will go back and get a sandwich, maybe some ice cream.

I got a small hassle with my pay record. I have not logged on to the website, and checked my direct deposits for so long, that my account went inactive. I had to email the accounting firm that UNISYS has administering my pay records. They will re-activate the account, then I can check my leave and deductions,etc.

Mail here is erratic and spotty. I may go two weeks, without so much as a letter, then get a pile of mail in one day. A lodge in Hawaii, sent in a pile of recreational gear for the Rec Hall, and I delivered it, and the Rec Hall staff was thrilled. I am glad to see this kind of Masonic charity.

I still do not know if I will ever see Freemasonry here in Iraq. I was asked to take over this project in December 2005. It is now almost May 2007, and I am no closer than when I started. I am still waiting on my application to be a dual member of Master Builder lodge #911, in Tonawanda NY, and I still have no idea when the charter (dispensation) to operate Land, Sea, and Air lodge #1 will be issued. The Grand Lodge of New York meets in May, maybe then they will move on the dispensation.

I am delighted that the presidential campaign is underway. It is great theater, and the Rec hall television is kept on the news channel most of the time. I am anxious to see it play out. My feeling is that Hillary (Ptui!) Clinton will get the Dem nomination, and that Barack Obama will get Vice-presidential nomination. The Republican side, I am pulling for Mitt Romney, but I think that Giulani is a real contender. I would like to see a real tough "law and order" type like Rudy get that nomination. I met him briefly in Washington DC, and he is genuine.

I pray every day, that I can get back to my old duty station. I thought that Al Asad, while not being a paradise, was about the closest that I had ever seen to a real ideal work station. I had two bikes, and a Gator vehicle to get around in. My trailer was huge, and carpeted. I had cable TV in the trailer, and we had a good Masonic club, and posters up all over the base.

My office was an entire BUILDING! That is right, the marines gave me a whole warehouse, with unlimited areas for storage. I had a huge amount of privacy, and I could work, and get around the base by bike. I had to make a lot of road trips, but I did not care, I liked the chopper rides in the middle of the night, and staying out at different places. I sure hope that I can get transferred back to Al Asad.

The KY Derby is coming up in one week. I am going to stay up all night at the Rec hall, and watch it. It will be about 3am Sunday morning, and it should be a terrific race. One thing I miss being here in the desert, is I cannot enjoy horse racing. It is the "King of Sports, and the Sport of Kings".

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