Sunday, May 23, 2004

Advice to the Squadron that's replacing us someday

One of my Gunny's that used to be with us is in our replacement squadron. He's been passing the link to my fotopage so they can see what to expect. So here are some words of advice:

1) Medical folk: bring lots of cold medications, when you first get we experienced a boot camp like crud, instruct your guys on wearing insect repellent, expect there to be spikes of people getting the runs. We're trying to leave you guys the sick call AMAL that we were issued out here. We could use a 20 foot eye chart for physicals though. A more detailed list is heading your way by email soon.

2) Bring power converters with the different attachments, if you have electronic gear try picking up stuff that can take either 110 or 220, specially battery chargers. School your guys to check the voltage before plugging anything in, just because it looks like an American power strip doesn't mean that it's running 110 (lot's of fried expensive stuff in trash cans out here). DVD players and laptops can usually take both 110/220 check just in case. We're probably going to pass along a lot of our gear that we've personally bought to you guys (maybe for a small fee in some cases, don't worry it will be worth it, Marines have go to take care of each other). Don't see much use in carrying around a bunch of 220 electrical gear back home. Besides it wasn't all that expensive.

3) If you start up a fotopage like mine, it will make families back home really happy, just make sure to clear all the pictures that you post with the base Public Affairs Office. It will save you grief later when your page gets shut down and families are upset. They will come by in the first few weeks that you are here and tell you what you can and can't take pictures of. It's pretty much common sense. Buy a THUMB DRIVE before you come out they're cheap, right now they're not letting you plug your personal laptops in at the internet cafe so the only way to upload is a thumb drive or CD, thumb drive is a lot easier to use. Also compress your pictures to 800 pixels wide before you put them on your thumb drive if you're using fotopages. It takes longer to upload if you don't compress them first and let fotopages do it for you, so save everybody time and bandwidth and do it yourself.

4) We have a pretty big BX for being it in Iraq but that's only because it's in an old warehouse. The stock changes daily so don't expect what you saw yesterday or last week to be there today. So if you see something you like when you're in there. Buy it right then because it might be gone an hour later (or don't buy it and save some of your cash) Don't worry about bringing CDR's they have those at the BX, also have a small selection of digital cameras (4-10) at any given time, I would advise buying any kind of electronics gear you want before you leave the states. Mail ordering does work but companies like Amazon won't ship electronic gear out here, probably for liability reasons which I can understand, boxes that show up out here are sometimes pretty jacked up. Something else your loved one might like is for you to bring your own webcam which I haven't seen sold here.

5) The local merchants sell bootlegged DVD's, cigarettes, electrical appliances, bikes, crappy generators, fridges, satellite dishes, TV's, rugs, bland food, sewing services (nametapes, patches, embroidery) cheap tools, sodas, cigars and touristy stuff. If you need anything special ordered you can ask and they will tell you if they can get it for you. Sometimes they also have some unknown brand computer gear, hubs and microphone and headphone sets.

6) There are a bunch of military support sites that send care packages out to members, they kick butt! Check out Keystone Marines, Operation Sandbox, Soldiers Angels and Books for Soldiers (links on the side bar).

7) Phone calls, mail and internet are cheap out here, call home and write!

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