Saturday, June 24, 2006


   It went like this, I was sitting in my office typing up a report, thinking, "boy, I am sure tired and I really need to pee" when a Marine ran into the office screaming, "Someone fell off the aircraft and is unconscious!" in a very panicked tone of voice.  I responded with the good old, "Oh shit!" and grabbed my bag and a stretcher and ran out of the office, on the way out I yelled into mantaince control to call 911 and right then our XO calmly said, "this is only a drill".  

   So me and that SSgt jumped into a gator and tore off to the flight line, damn, I forgot my cranial!  (We're supposed to wear head protection if we're driving in the gator).  We get out to the aircraft about a minute after they made the call and the supposed unconscious guy started throwing out different scenarios, asking how we would respond to each.  Guess we did okay, good response time and knew the proper answers to say (I have been doing this for all of my adult life).  We drove back to maintaince control and debriefed the XO and went over what we were supposed to do after a mishap like this.  The SSgt then told me that he had thought it was real until the XO had said it was a drill.  

   I noticed that the feeling of having to pee had totally disappeared and I was wide awake.   I need to do this kind of stuff more often.  

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rocks and water bottles

A couple of months ago my unit got a bright idea to string camo netting over the port-a-johns to keep them out of the direct sunlight making them a few degrees cooler inside.  It actually works.


Earlier today, I was doing my business in one of them and a prankster Marine noticed me going in there and started throwing rocks at the door to make me jump.  After all of the time I've had pranks pulled on myself, it takes more then a few bangs to make me jump and wet myself, specially when I watched him doing the deed though the air vent screen at the top of my port-a-john.  He then jumped into another one 5 feet away to hide (Amatures).


With the camo netting hanging down over the front, it tends to get caught up in the doors when they close.  Over the last few days I've also noticed a  full water bottle sitting next to the road that we have all been pointedly ignoring.  Without even thinking about it, I picked it up, took off the lid and placed it in the camo netting hanging over the door.  


And said, "I know you're in there Vic, you might as well come out now cause I saw you throwing the rocks", in a sort of mean tone of voice (which I really have to work at, I'm not much for yelling or getting mad).


He opened the door and the open water bottle poured right on his head, it couldn't have worked out better (maybe if I had brought out my camera on video mode).


I don't know where this talent for evil deeds comes from but it sure can be entertaining (yes, he did get a camel spider on his lap a couple of weeks ago).

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Monday, June 19, 2006

I’ve lost my Muse

I've realized that I'm a night time writer, all of the thoughts of the day run through my head right before I go bed.  Reading a post on another blog (Anti-girl's, she's on MySpace) I knew what my problem was, I was typing most of my writing before I went to bed.  My body does a flush of everything that I thought about and before I started blogging, I would lie in bed tossing and turning each night, thoughts running through my head, not being able to get to sleep.

I'm on the day shift now and I leave my lap top at the office because you can't take bags in most for the buildings plus I don't really need the wear and tear on the laptop.   Not to mention that it's a bazillion degrees out there and I don't want my laptop to melt into a puddle of plastic.  
I don't have my laptop at bedtime so all of the angst of the day gets focused on the letters that I have been writing to wife each night, sealed in an envelope and mailed the following morning.  Thoughts, words, dreams that are for her eyes only and never to appear on the internet.
Now I just have to figure out how to get a daytime muse.
PS I'm trying to post from an email address, lets see how this works

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Letters Home

Everyday that my unit has received mail in Iraq, I would usually get a letter from my wife, sometimes 2 or 3, our mail out here isn't exactly regular but you can count on getting mail at least 4 days out of a given week. She has also been sending a care package or two each week filled with stuff that I needed but had not thought about till I opened the box, then we all would think, oh yeah, why didn't I think of that? Her reasoning behind sending so many care packages is that she doesn't want strangers to send me more stuff then her, who am I to argue?
My wife takes the art of packing and letter writing to new heights, I've seen wrappings on piñata that were less intricate then her boxes. If the plane that flew all of our mail out here crashed, I would bet her packages would be one of the few things to survive. She makes her own envelopes out of magazines, old cards, calendars and posters. No kidding. The real reason I carry around a big knife out here? It's to get through her wrappings.
Here's some of the stuff she's sent out over the last few weeks. Two weeks ago I received 6 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on VHS (we have them on DVD at home), 17 tapes she made over 6 years of watching the show. She felt that it was my duty as her husband to be properly versed in the Buffyverse (I'll start watching them as soon as I'm done with this class I'm taking!) Last week we got all makings for popsicles and the molds to put them in, plus new sheets, ice cube trays, more reading materials, a 2 liter bottle of Inca Cola, a stuffed animal and some pictures of her so there wouldn't be a chance of me forgetting her (don't worry hun, that's never going to happen!)
As a Dustman, we're notoriously bad letter writers, we have a genetic defect, it's a aversion we all have for placing a pen on paper and actually writing a letter. We would rather drive a hundred miles then write a note and send it in the mail. While the rest of the world was still adjusting to the internet, the Dustman clan was already sending emails back and forth. It's not the same with emails, there is no pen or stamps involved, you place your hands on the keyboard and words appear on the screen as by magic. Now everybody under 80 in the Dustman family as at least 2 email accounts, a computer and checks their email daily. If you don't have a computer or phone, the only time you're going to hear from us is by coming by to visit.
Into this family of write-o-phobes enters my wife who has great love for all things that have to do with pen on paper. I think she should buy stock in the post office with how many stamps she goes through in a month. Every place we go traveling, we clean out the postcard racks. When we visit a new town, between us, the two most important places to locate is the internet café and the post office. Every don't receive birthday cards, Christmas cards, Easter, Halloween, you name it, she's sends them out. She faithfully corresponds with people from around the world using the postal system. While at the same time, she could go weeks without checking her email without worrying about it at all. While I too keep in contact with my own hoard of people from all over, I on the other hand do it by computer or phone. Between us, we're known in our circles for keeping track of everyone. We're the only members of our families who communicate with just about everyone on a regular basis. We're opposites with our technique, we see eye to eye with keeping staying close to family. I couldn't' imagine using the mail system to keep in contact with my family (I would never get a reply!) While for her, computers are cold and impersonal without tactile sensation of a card or letter.
Yet since I've got out here, she's emailed me daily plus and sent a letter. I'm always good about replying to emails but for the first time in my life, I've wrote a letter to her each night without missing a day. You might not think this is a big deal, but then again, you don't know me or my family real well. I have such stage fright of the post office, I did a Snoopy happy dance when my bank started its online bill pay. Me? Writing letters home daily? What's this world coming to?
My love, I just want you to know how much I appreciate everything you do and that I love you dearly (but you know that). To my readers, I couldn't have picked a better spouse if I had spent a thousand lifetimes searching. She's truly magical, amazing and unique and I'm a very lucky man to have her as my wife. Her beauty goes far beyond the stunning pictures that are all over my fotopage, she's the most caring and kind person I have ever met and I have no idea how I could live without her now that she's in my life.
Thank you for marrying me and being such a wonderful wife.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Summer has finally arrived to this great sand box. Our thermometer showed 127 a few minutes ago, it's in the 140's out on the flight line. For you folk back home, imagine a blow dryer turned over your whole body. At least it's not humid; you body sweats and the evaporation cools you off somewhat, that is if you're drinking enough water. I have no reason to complain, I'm not working on the flight line and my offices air conditioner hasn't even flinched yet. My first trip out here there were entire weeks where we were without power or running water. Camping in Iraq surviving off flashlights and bottled water was no fun!

Slowly but surely, you can see the changes taking place around here, specially if you've been here as many times as I have. All of the vehicles that go off base are now armored, new air conditioning units are hanging outside of all of the buildings and even the exchange has improved its inventory. Each group coming through has improved their spaces to suit their needs, after a couple of years of doing improvements, our work centers have taken on a personality of their own reflecting the people who have worked there. This is our home away from home, so we try to make it as comfortable as possible.

In most cases there is no one telling us how to decorate, we think of a good idea, pass that idea around and then run with it. Homemade benches under camo netting, bookshelves line the walls, lofts made out of 4X4's, we recycle anything that can be used and not much goes to waste. The quality of the projects depends on the talent of the builder. A good carpenter will leave his mark on a space for years to come and on the return trip, they can say, I built that and no one has thought of anything better. Having quality tools and knowing how to use them makes you a very popular guy.

The sand bags have been replaced by Hesco barriers, tall wide wire boxes lined with cloth that are filled with sand. Thicker and safer then sand bags and easier to use, we set them up where we want them and have someone with some kind of earth moving equipment come by and fill them up. No more filling sand bags! Yay! These form little mazes around all of the entrances to buildings and sometimes as fences around larger areas.

The bases are finally falling under a rule of law; there are a regulations and plans for just about any kind emergency. No running around like a headless chicken anymore when something goes boom. The MP's even have radar guns and hand out tickets. It's almost like being home other then the heat, lack of beer, not having your own vehicle and everyone wearing the same unstylish clothing.

Deploying to Iraq has become routine as far as being on base goes. But it's still a jungle outside of the gates; IED's are getting bigger to offset the new armored vehicles. With that the amount of explosives that is required to make it through our armor, the fragile humans inside aren't usually in good shape after getting caught in a blast. We're getting better though and we're far from being easy meat for the bad guys.

Medical work comes in waves, couple of weeks ago it was bike wrecks, last week, lacerations, this week, 5 people have fallen off of the aircraft, 3 today and all of todays people have banged up their wrists, nothing obviously broken but it is strange how certain types of injuries bunch up. No war wounds or anything you wouldn't expect back in the states. Suturing, splinting and wrapping up twisted ankles, nothing life threatening or serious which is good.